Showing posts from January, 2012

Bad Island by Doug TenNapel, 219pp, RL 4

Bad Island is Doug TenNapel's second graphic novel for kids, Ghostopolis being his first. TenNapel does a great job world building and creating an environment you get sucked into a few pages into his book. What I love about TenNapel's work is the way he subtly weaves themes of love and family into his action packed stories. With Bad Island we meet a family preparing for a vacation on board a boat and not everyone is happy about the trip. Teenager Reese spends his last free minutes trying to convince his parents to let him stay home alone. Mom, the botanist, is frantically trying to rig up a drip system to keep her rare orchid alive while she is gone and Janie is increasingly frantic as she tries to find her pet snake Pickles and furious as no one will help her. When the family finally makes it on board the boat they are quickly sucked up into an unanticipated storm that leaves them ship wrecked on an uncharted island. A bad island... However, Bad Island actually begins with the…

Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel, 272pp, RL: 4

When I first encountered Doug TenNapel'sGhostopolis last year it struck me as a creepy-kind-of-boy-book. However, I did take note of how well it was selling and one day while on break I began reading it and couldn't put it down. I was immediately drawn in to main character Garth Hale's story line as a kid with a terminal illness and his single mom, not your typical graphic novel hero. The plot of Ghostopolis can get a bit darker than most and is different from any other graphic novel I have read to date. Garth's storyline is quickly and almost inextricably linked with that of Frank Gallows, a once great now down on his luck investigator charged with sending wayward ghosts back to Ghostopolis, a kind of  limbo/way station setting. When the skeletal ghost horse Frank is hunting down escapes through the wall of a neighboring house just as Frank is clapping the transporting ghost-cuffs on his fetlocks, the nightmare jumps over Garth in his bed, sending him back to Ghostopo…

Jack Gantos on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me... (and Barnes & Noble on 30 Rock)

You may know that I am an NPR junkie and my life is nearly complete having been interviewed by Michele Norris on All Things Considered where I was honored to talk about kid's books. I am also a huge fan of comedy and never miss the radio show Wait Wait Don't Tell Me... So, I was especially excited when worlds collided and the 2012 Newbery Award WinnerJack Gantos appeared on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me... to play their game Not My Job (click to read transcript or listen) where he answered multiple choice questions about romance novels. Before that, though, Peter Sagal asked him to talk about spending eighteen months in prison for drug smuggling when he was a teenager looking for cash for college. Gantos wrote about this in his autobiography Hole in My Life. Gantos is a VERY funny story teller and also happens to be great at the "Not My Job" game and won Carl Kassel's voice on the answering machine of Eli Barnes of Madison, WI. Gantos, who has previously won a Newb…

Extra Yarn, written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen

Mac Barnett is a favorite of mine (which means I can't write about him without mentioning all his work...) especially when he teams up with Adam Rex. Happily, the duo have a new book, Chloe and the Lion, coming out in April. But after reading Barnett's newest picture book Extra Yarn I think there is room in this world for more than one favorite pairing. After all, I love chocolate and peanut butter together but I also enjoy chocolate and mint. Makes perfect sense, though. Barnett's newest partner Jon Klassen is the author and illustrator of the brilliant (and slightly subversive) picture book I Want My Hat Back so of course these two would make a great team. Oh, I just remembered. I also like chocolate and chiles (Chuau Chocolatier makes the best) and can't forget the superb pairing of Barnett (click his name for all my reviews of all his work) and the super-awesome Dan Santat. The two joined forces for the fantastic OH NO! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the Worl…

Monsters Eat Whiny Children written and illustrated by Bruce Eric Kaplan

My husband, by way of his family, introduced me to the joys of The New Yorker magazine when we met some twenty-plus years ago. While I always felt good about myself for wanting to read those very long articles about interesting, intellectual, cultural things and those top-notch short stories that filled the pages, nine times out of ten I ended up poring over the magazine just to read the cartoons and maybe a movie review or two. While I always aspired to something more, I contented myself with the knowledge that plenty of cartoonists for  The New Yorker (William Steig, Bob Staake, Peter de Sève, Roz Chast to name a very few) were also children's book illustrator/authors. Add to this list Bruce Eric Kaplan and his excellent new book, Monsters Eat Whiny Children, published in 2010.
I love this book for so many reasons, from the spare but expressive artwork to the humor that might be lost on children and, best of all, the timeless trop of children-eating monsters. While I love every…

I'd Really Like to Eat a Child by Sylvianne Donnio and illustrated by Dorothée de Monfried

Like Bruce Eric Kaplan's Monsters Eat Whiny Children, Sylvianne Donnio and Dorothée de Monfried's I'd Really Like to Eat a Child is fueled by that classic Grimm childhood fear of being eaten. And, while both authors work to alleviate (at least a little bit) the fear and tension surrounding the subject of their books, Donnio's book is actually a bit more gripping because kids KNOW there are really crocodiles that eat people... However, the title of the book really has a much more threatening bite than the story itself, which is actually as cute as little Achilles the crocodile himself.
Achilles (great name, makes him seem a little less scary) is an adored little crocodile who makes his Mama proud every day by eating up all the bananas she brings him. She praises him lavishly, saying, "What a big boy you are getting to be, my son! And how handsome! And what beautiful teeth you have!" to which Achilles responds, "True." However, one day Achilles turns…

ALA Awards for 2012 - Newbery and Caldecott Winners and More

Newbery Award Winner
Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Newbery Honor Winners:

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Breaking Stalin's Nose By Eugene Yelchin

Caldecott Award Winner

A Ball for Daisy Written and illustrated by Chris Raschka

Caldecott Honor Winners
Blackout written and illustrated by John Rocco