Showing posts from August, 2012

Reading Starts Here with Candlewick Press's New Website Dedicated to the Love of Picture Books

Almost two years ago, Julie Bosman wrote an article that appeared on the front page of the New York Times titled Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children . I took issue with her reporting and interpretation of statistics and wrote this piece Picture Books: A Dying Breed or Just Misunderstood? in which I shared my picture book experiences as a bookseller and mother and asked my readers to share theirs as well and a great dialogue followed. Picture book authors also spoke out after this article appeared. A   Proclamation! created and signed by an impressive roster of picture book authors and illustrators proved to be a fantastic manifesto. Next, picture book author and illustrator Matthew Cordell sent out a Challenge! asking readers to "reawaken your love of picture books" and go to a BOOKSTORE and spend some time in the children's section and "find something incredible (it ain't hard.)" Now, Candlewick Press , a publisher of consistently

Libby of High Hopes, story and pictures by Elise Primavera, 185 pp, RL 3

Libby of High Hopes , written and illustrated by Elise Primavera , is a gem of a book. Besides being ideal for readers ready to move up from Magic Tree House and Junie B Jones but not quite ready for the 300+ page books that take up so much shelf space these days,  Libby of High Hopes  is a thoughtful story about an almost eleven-year-old girl trying to figure things out for herself after her teacher writes on her report card that she needs to "live up to her potential." I've given this book the label "short books - BIG IDEAS," which I usually reserve for books with older characters and more mature themes, but  Libby of High Hopes , in spite of its gentle tone, presents some very profound philosophical questions in a way that is palatable and understandable for young readers and great for conversation between parents and kids or book group members.  Libby of High Hopes  can easily be compared to the fantastic The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall in which a c

Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by Dan Santat, 184 pp RL 3

Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies   is now in paperback!! Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by Dan Santat   (author and illustrator images at left - you can't tell, but Andrea's eyes are all swirly and hypnotized, and, yes, that fanged bunny is Dan)is a comic book-horror show mash up, a little bit like if Goosebumps , Mystery Science Theater and Captain Underpants got thrown in a blender and poured out onto the page. Full of clever word play, funny names, a narrator who talks directly to the reader and all sorts of lists and asides, Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies will remind you of many things but is, ultimately, like nothing you've ever read before... Chapter 1 begins, "Meanwhile, in space..." as a meteor hurtles through the darkness. Chapter 2 begins, "Meanwhile, to being our story..." and precedes a two page chart (taken from The Illustrated Guide to Fluffs and Other Space Creatures You Don't want to M

A Dog's Life by Ann M Martin, 182pp RL 4

I first reviewed  A Dog's Life  in 2008. While stories about animals are hard for me to read because they always involve some kind of injury or cruelty, I read  A Dog's Life  because I noticed so many kids looking for a good dog story to read. Squirrel's story still lingers in my memory four years after reading and  A Dog's Life  continues to be a bestselling book at the store where I work, and all others I'm sure! To the best of my knowledge, A Dog's Life by Ann M Martin is the first children's book written from the point of view of a homeless dog with the dog as narrator. The Good Dog , by Avi, is told from the point of view of a malamute named McKinley, but he has a human "pup"named Jack. And, while McKinley is the tempted and changed by his encounter with a wolf, he remains a pet with loyalties to a human throughout the book. I'll be honest, I have never been a fan of animal/nature writing and movies and, since I had kids, I get w

The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic, by Jennifer Tracton with art by Brett Helquist, 339 pp, RL 4

 If you read my review of Stephanie Tolan's Surviving the Applewhites and Applewhites at Wit's End , then you know that I will read anything with cover art by  Brett Helquist . Visiting his website and looking at the cover art (and often interior art) Helquist does for novels (he writes and illustrates his own picture books and the occasional book for other authors) I recognized many books from my own shelves as well as two of my favorites - Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan and Fly By Night by the amazing Frances Hardinge. In fact, The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by  Jennifer Trafton very much reminds me of a gentler, more playful, fairy tale-like version of Hardinge's fantastic book. The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic  begins with a prologue by the book's author, Professor Barnabas Quill, Historian of the Island at the Center of Everything (washed, dusted, translated, edited and greatly shortened for the rest of the world by Jennifer Trafton, as the