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Showing posts from April, 2018

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi, 368 pp, RL 4

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Aru Shah and the end of Time by Roshani Chokshiis the first book in a series and also the first book published by Rick Riordan Presents, a new imprint with Disney with the goal of publishing, "great books by middle grade authors from underrepresented cultures and backgrounds, to let them tell their own stories inspired by the mythology and folklore of their own heritage." Having written series centered on Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Norse mythologies, I think it is very nice of Riordan to give other authors a chance, especially when the authors are members of these underrepresented cultures. And this is not just another money maker for Riordan! As he says, "Disney is paying me a nominal fee to write an introduction for each book, help edit  and promote it, etc., but that's the limit of my monetary involvement. . .  I am not doing this for money. . . Honestly, for me this is away to give back for my success. I've been lucky in my career. I want to use my platform …

Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter by Marcus Sedgwick and Thomas Taylor, 208 pp, RL 4

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Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter is the debut graphic novel from Marcus Sedgwick, author of Printz winner Midwinter Blood. Along withThomas Taylorthey have created a fast-paced, kinda creepy monster story with a quick thinking, fearless protagonist. Scarlett Hart is an orphan carrying on the work of her parents, who were also monster hunters, with the help of Napoleon White, (butler, chauffeur, assistant monster hunter, surrogate father and owner of Dorothy, an amazing car) and Mrs. White, (head housekeeper, cook and repairer of Dorothy). Unfortunately, she is an underaged monster hunter and therefore working illegally, according to The Royal Academy for the Pursuit and Eradication of Zoological Eccentricities (T.R.A.P.E.Z.E.) To keep her family home, Ravenwood Hall, running, Scarlett and Napoleon hunt in secret, with Napoleon collecting the bounty on their catches. Unfortunately, there is someone who is out to get her.  Count Stankovic, not really a count, just happens to be releasing m…

LlamaPhones Janik Coat

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When I read and reviewed Hippopposites by Janik Coat in 2012 I was convinced she was a genius. Then, in 2015,  Rhymoceros was published. Two magnificent books, surprisingly  improved upon by the format of board book, what more could a person ask for? WithLlamaphones, Coat delivers a hat trick in the world of kid's books, board books and word play. The images below (apologies for the subpar photography - I couldn't find any images online to share) should do my job for me, but I'll try to put words to this brilliance, especially because I adore homophones. Coat is a master of simple, clean, effective design, which is essential when writing a book with only two words per page. In Llamaphones, the green llama is the perfect straight man for the humor that Coat brings to her book. Putting the llama in a variety of situations, Coat adds texture (for rose/rows, the rows on the llama are raised) that makes her books even more engaging. On the page wait/weight, the hands on the cloc…

The Town of Turtle by Michelle Cuevas and Cátia Chien

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Sometimes you read a picture book with a message that stays with you long after you have closed the covers. Sometimes you read a picture book that is so charming, you find yourself smiling when you think about it long after you have closed the covers. And sometimes you read a picture book that is a little bit of both. That's what The Town of Turtle written by Michelle Cuevasand illustrated byCátia Chien is for me. And, like any work of creative expression, it won't be this kind of book for everyone, and, as with all children's books, it will mean something different for young listener/readers than it does for adults. I hope that this enchanting dream of a book is one that many will have the pleasure of encountering.
The first page of The Town of Turtle reminds me of The Little Prince, with a lone figure perched on top of a lonely planet. Cuevas begins her story, "Turtle lived in apart of the world as empty as a bird's nest in December." Poetic sentences like t…

Fox + Chick: The Party and Other Stories, by Sergio Ruzzier, 56 pp, RL 1

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Sergio Ruzzier has a new series for new readers and it's time to celebrate! He must have known that when he titled it, The Party and Other Stories. Ruzzier is an author who has a gift for writing deceptively simple stories where friendship is the foundation for characters who are often opposites. Fox and Chick, stars of this new series, will call to mind classic odd couples like Frog and Toad and George and Martha. With pages that have four and two panel spreads as well as occasional two page spreads, the graphic novel format of this picture book (can it be both?) is ideal for emerging readers who will love the humor that arises as the ever-patient Fox and the antsy Chick go about their day. Ruzzier's illustrations, luminous watercolors filled with warm reds, yellows and oranges and cool blues and greens, are instantly engaging, inviting readers to linger over each page. There are three stories in The Party and Other Stories; The Party, Good Soup and Sit Still. I love the title…

Emily Windsnap and the Falls of Forgotten Island by Liz Kessler, 305 pp, RL 5

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I've read and loved other books by Liz Kessler (North of Nowhere and A Year Without Autumn) yet somehow never reviewed any titles in her seven book, bestselling series about  thirteen-year-old girl who is part mermaid (a semi-mer: legs on land, a tail in the water) until now. And, while I had to a bit of digging to learn the backstories of a few of the characters, I got a great feel for the mythology and adventure that Kessler creates for Emily in each book.

Emily Windsnap and the Falls of Forgotten Island begins with a prologue that tells the story of a fiercely epic rainstorm with attitude that cleaved and island in two and left it surrounded by an ever present cloud cover. Present day finds Emily, who narrates the book, on the boat that she calls home, joined by her (human) mother, who lives on the upper deck and (merman) father, who lives below deck, under water. Millie, her mother's best friend, is also on board, trying to convince the family to take a much needed vacation…

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol, color by Alec Longstreth, 256 pp, RL 4

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Be Prepared is the second graphic novel from Caldecott Honor winning author and illustrator, Vera Brosgol and it perfectly captures that quintessential childhood experience of being taken outside of your comfort zone - your family - and learning to survive in an alien land, whether it is sleeping over at a friend's house for the first time, being sent away to summer camp, or moving to a new country, all of which happen to Vera in this mostly autobiographical graphic novel. As Brosgol, who was born in Moscow and moved to America in 1989 when she was five, says in her author's note, "Though some details changed a bit for dramatic purposes, the feelings are 100 percent true." And she does a phenomenal job getting these feelings on the page and making them immediately relatable to readers. Brosgol begins her story with two birthday parties. Sarah Hoffman always has the best birthday parties, from the Carvel ice cream cake and the Pizza Hut stuffed crust pizza to the gift …

The Great Chicken Escape by Nikki McClure

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Nikki McClure works her magic again in her newest picture book, The Great Chicken Escape. If you don't know anything about McClure's books, know that the natural world plays a powerful part in all of her work, often, specifically that natural world of the Pacific Northwest coastline. Also know that McClure creates her illustrations through the art of the papercut, saying, "I cut my images from black paper with an X-Acto knife. Everything is connected. It is all once piece of paper, yet now it holds a story."  With only four lines of text in the book, the illustrations, as well as an introductory note from the author, the pictures tell the story of four chickens and their escape from their coop. One is caught, but two black and one white chicken make their way through the berry brambles, past grazing cows, and down a path to the coastline, where the chickens explore. Returning home in the evening to the ringing of the bells, the white chicken drags a rope of kelp with …