Showing posts from April, 2013

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, 320 pp, RL: TEEN

Before I dive into the review, I need to applaud Harriet Russell for the cover illustration on Eleanor &Park, designed and art directed by Olga Grlic at St. Martin's Press. It is elegant, distinctive and captures the essence of the characters in the novel in ways that so few covers do. As Rainbow Rowell says about the process of creating the cover art here, "Eleanor would totally read this book."

Everything about Eleanor &Parkby Rainbow Rowell feels real and immediate, painfully and achingly so. While I managed to spread the experience of reading this breathtaking book out over the course of three weeks (this IS the kind of book you don't want to end, both because it's so good you want it to last forever but also because you know that it will make you cry) I could have easily read it in one sitting. John Green's succinct, praise filled review of Eleanor &Parkin New York Times Book Review is impressive coming from someone who, judging by his super…

The Snow is Melting by Kobayashi Issa

The Snow is Melting

              The snow is melting
           and the village is flooded
 with children.

Painting by William James Glackens Washington Square, 1910

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai, 262 pp, RL 4

Thanhha Lai's semi-autobiographical verse novel, Inside Out & Back Again won the National Book Award and the Newbery Honor in 2011. I feel like I say this at the start of every verse novel that I review (which, admittedly, is few) but I continually find myself in awe of the author's ability to convey emotionally charged life experiences using a mere a handful of words. This economy of language is perfectly suited to Lai's story of Hà, a native of Saigon who flees with her older brothers and mother as the city falls. After weeks on a crowded boat then more weeks in a crowded tent city on Guam, they finally find a home in Alabama. Lai's concise poems and deliberate word choice are the ideal medium for conveying the powerful experiences of leaving the only home you have known and making in a new home in a country where at best your experience is completely alien, at worst, you are the face of the enemy of a nation. And, I can't imagine a more perfect way to conve…

Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists with an Introduction by Leonard S Marcus, edited by Chris Duffy, published by First Second Books

Aside from Françoise Mouly (TOON BOOKS) and Art Speigelman's brillinat Little Lit collections of folklore, fairy tales and funny (and scary) stories, illustrated in comic book format by a truly remarkable collection of artists (Jules Feiffer, Maurice Sendak, Barbara McClintock, David Macaulay, Daniel Clowes and William Joyce, to name a few) and authors (see previous list and add: Lemony Snickett, David Sedaris and Neil Gaiman) I can't think of any other place to find such a spectacular collection of creative types contributing to one very reasonably priced book. That is, until First Second had the genius to bring usNursery Rhyme Comics.

I thought and thought about what to write in this review and even considered letting the pictures below do all the talking. But, as I read and reread children's book historian Leonard S Marcus' introduction to the book, I realized that he has perfectly summed up the brilliance and wonder of this book and, in light of that I will finish…

A Rose by Any Other Name by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

A Rose by Any Other Name

In Spain it's called a pedo In Hungary you'd pass a fing In Dutch you'd say en wind laten When your bottom sings
In Japan it's called he onara In Germany you'd pass der pup In Italian you'd say peto When that small sound erupts
In Russia it's called perdun In Hindu you'd pass a pud In Polish you'd say pierdzenic For both loud or quiet duds
No matter where you come from Or what language that you speak It's really really funny to hear a tushy squeak.
- Amy Krouse Rosenthal from The Wonder Book

Why I'm Late for School (National Hippo Day, February 15th) by J Patrick Lewis, illustrated from Anna Raff

National Hippo Day, February 15th
Why I'm Late for School
This hippopotamus thinks I'm a stool. I wish he'd let me up to go to school. If he squatted on my finger or one hand, One knee or elbow, I could understand. But head to toe? That makes it awful hard To have a conversation with the lard! Though not as hard as telling Mr. Bruce My teacher, the old hippo-on-the-loose- Who's-flattened-my whole-body's my excuse!

From:  World Rat Day: Poems About Real Holidays  You've Never Heard Of  by J Patrick Lews, illustrated by Anna Raff

Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It, written by Gail Carson Levine with illustrations by Matthew Cordell, RL 2

Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It:  False Apology Poems, written by Gail Carson Levine and brilliantly illustrated by the very busy Matthew Cordell, is, as you may surmise, inspired by William Carlos William's poem "This Is Just to Say." What Levine brings to this collection is her considerable knowledge of fairy tales and a gleefully wicked sense of humor. Every poem in the book it titled, "This Is Just To Say," (and the last stanza of each poem begins with the same line, "Forgive me") and the table of contents is a very funny jumble of the title over and over in different sized fonts. Six poems into the book we find the Introduction, which turns out to be a "This Is Just to Say" poem with a great illustration of a pointy-toothed, very demented looking Levine. The poem reads:
This Is Just to Say

Instead of at the beginning
I slipped 
this introduction
in here

my editor excruciatingly loudly
it does not belong

Forgive me
I also shredded
her …

This Is Just To Say by Gail Carson Levine, illustrations by Matthew Cordell

From Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It:  False Apology Poems, written by Gail Carson Levine and illustrated by Matthew Cordell

This Is Just To Say by Gail Carson Levine, illustrations by Matthew Cordell

from: Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It:  False Apology Poems, by Gail Carson Levine with illustrations by Matthew Cordell

Think LIke a Tree by Karen I. Shragg

Soak up the sun Affirm life's magic Be graceful in the wind Stand tall after a storm Feel refreshed after it rains Grow strong without notice Be prepared for each season Provide shelter to strangers Hang tough through a cold spell Emerge renewed at the first signs of spring Stay deeply rooted while reaching for the sky Be still long enough to hear your own leaves rustling
Karen I. Shragg
(from The Tree That Time Built: a celebration of nature, science and imagination)

A Stick is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

EARTH DAY is tomorrow!

Marilyn Singer, of Tallulah's Tutu fame with illustrations by the superb Alexandra Boiger, brings us this fantastic books of poems with the best title EVER, A Stick Is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play, just in time for National Poetry Month. Better yet, the very busy LeUyen Pham's (The Best Birthday Party Ever by Jennifer Laurie Huget is my favorite of hers) illustrations are perfectly matched to the text. Pham's style is boisterous, jubilant and full of energy and with a color palette that harkens back to the days before electronic devices of all manner sapped our kids of motivation to do anything besides sit in front of a glowing screen.

I have no doubt that girls do this too, but as the mother of two boys, I can tell you that there were many years where we could not make the walk home from school without a stick or two in hand. In fact, one day my oldest son decided that he was going to line the four blocks from school to our hous…

Gone Fishing : A Novel in Verse by Tamera Will Wissinger, illustrated by Matthew Cordell, 120 pp, RL 2

So, besides the fact that Gone Fishing : A Novel in Verse by Tamera Will Wissinger, with illustrations by the fantasticMatthew Cordellis a wonderful novel told in poems about a boy, his dad and a fishing trip that is almost ruined by his little sister, Wissinger's poems teach various forms of poetry as you read! A the end of the book is The Poet's Tackle Box that begins with a note from the author I am including here because I love the way Wissinger compares writing poetry with catching fish:
Like Sam and his tackle box, poets have a box of tools to help them write poems. Those tools include rhyme, rhythm, poetry techniques, and poetic forms.
In fishing, if one type of bait or approach isn't working, the fisherman or fisherwoman may try something else. This is also true for poets. If you are writing a poem and get stuck, try another form, or try a new topic. (Or take a break. Doing something different for a while may help you get back on track.) Sometimes many poems will …


April 18, 2013 is  POEM IN YOUR POCKET DAY! Don't forget to arm yourselves and your family with poems to share! If you need a little help finding poems, visit the POETS.orgPIYPpage for downloads and ideas for making the day great. And, last year, these great books for kids and adults were published.

Poem in Your Pocket, edited by Elaine Bleakney, in conjunction with the Academy of American Poets. Published by ABRAMS, the purveyor of gorgeous books, this brilliant little tome is 5x7 and the cover opens to reveal a tablet of 200 tear-off pages of thematically arranged poems to share. 

"First there was National Poetry Month, then there was National Poem in Your Pocket Day, now you can carry a poem in your pocket anytime!"

Published in conjunction with the Academy of American Poets, Poem in Your Pocket enables you to select a poem you love, tear it out neatly from the book, and then carry it with you all day to read, be inspired by, and share with coworkers, family, and fr…

The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths, illustrated by Terry Denton, 239 pp, RL 2

The 13-Story Treehouse is the latest Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton, the geniuses behind the beginning to read books that look like chapter books and are even better than Dr Seuss, The Cat on the Mat is Flat and The Big Fat Cow That Goes Kapow. If you know any of the many books these two have created, then you know that they are masters of the absurd and have MAJOR boy appeal. With this new series (The 26-Story Treehouse is already out in Griffiths and Denton's native Australia and The 39-Story Treehouse is in the works) the reading level is a bit higher and there is more text and a longer narrative but there are still crazy, cartoonish illustrations by Denton on every page. And there is actually a plot.

Although the illustrations are all in black and white in The 13-Story Treehouse, I have color illustrations to share with you here. After a quick tour of the treehouse, Andy and Terry reveal that they get the ideas for some of their stories from their own lives. The 13-Story Tre…