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Showing posts from 2021

Waffles and Pancakes: Planetary-Yum (A CatStronauts Kitten Adventure) by Drew Brockington, 64 pp, RL 2

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  Waffles and Pancakes: Planetary-Yum  A CatStronauts Kitten Adventure  by Drew Brockington Review Copy Drew Brockington launched his fantastic CatStronauts series in 2017, and in 2018 I reviewed the first four books in the series, which were hugely popular with kids at the elementary school where I was the librarian. Brockington's hilarious graphic novels stand out for the portrayal of space travel, the preparation that goes into a launch from Earth into orbit and even a bit of NASA history. To all this, Brockington adds sassy (and hungry) cats and fantastic cat puns administered in just the right doses. This first Kitten Adventure travels back in time to features everyone's favorite, Waffles, along with sister Pancake, in their youth. As with  CatStronauts , Brockington's blend of science and humor, along with a dash of smart safety protocols for kittens (and kids) pairs perfectly with his chunky illustrations style and exaggerated, exuberant and humorous expressions on

Mel the Chosen by Rachele Aragno, translated by Carla Roncalli Di Montorio, interior design and lettering by Patrick Crotty, 208 pp, RL 3

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Mel the Chosen by   Rachele Aragno translated by Carla Roncalli Di Montorio interior design and lettering by Patrick Crotty  Review Copy from RHGraphic Mel the Chosen is a visual delight for all lovers of the fantastical and the magical. Immersed in Aragno's luminous watercolor world populated with curious characters, felt like I was wandering through Wonderland by way of Roald Dahl, with a dash of the fantastic world building of artist, author (and personal favorite) Chris Riddell . Aragno's graphic novel creates a world that is easy to fall into, if not always easy to navigate, with the illustrations carrying the weight of the story telling. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, it is easy to get swept away in the world of Here&Now and the many paths to wander within. When Mel hears her parents talking about having to move yet again, she is more than frustrated. Fed up with adults continually making decisions that upend her life, she doesn't think twice when she s

Book Buddies 1: Ivy Lost and Found by Cynthia Lord, illustrations by Stephanie Graegin, 68 pp, RL 2

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  Book Buddies 1: Ivy Lost and Found   by Cynthia Lord illustrations by Stephanie Graegin Review Copy from Candlewick Press Book Buddies hits a sweet spot for me - both the kid reader I was and the adult who wants to put great books into the hands of young readers. As a kid, I loved reading books that had dolls as characters. As an adult, I love books that offer moments of social-emotional learning for young readers and this book has both. AND it has stellar illustrations by Graegin! The series title refers to all the dolls and stuffed animals librarian Annie has added to her library for readers to check out. Along with Lilyanna, a doll in princess garb, a stuffed owl, a black bear, a flying squirrel, a mother chicken and her chick and a tiny mouse in an acorn cap (a Christmas ornament named Marco Polo, who is the star of the next book in this series!) As Ivy Lost and Found begins, readers learn that Ivy was a gift to Anne when she was a girl. Newly rediscovered, Ivy has been retriev

Inside Cat by Brendan Wenzel

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  Inside Cat  by Brendan Wenzel Review Copy from Chronicle Books Inside Cat is yet another marvelous picture book from Wenzel exemplifying his ability convey a unique perspective from the inside out and the outside in, words and pictures working in perfect unison. "Inside Cat knows many windows, finds a view wherever it goes," begins a story that follows a cat through an enormous house, a new view at every turn - and a mouse, or two, on every page! Wenzel's words wander and wonder as Inside Cat gazes and gapes, stares and snacks, lingers and laps, nibbles and naps, always with a new view from a changing series of windows. Wenzel describes the shapes of the windows, the quality of the glass (dusty, streaky, gloomy, freaky), before describing what Inside Cat sees, words and pictures slightly askew. In the final pages, all the things that Inside Cat knows, from "who lives in the clouds," and "who plays with all the kids," to "what blares," and

Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer's Guide by Cecily Wong & Dylan Thuras, 436 pp, RL: 4

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  Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer's Guide  An Atlas Obscura Book by Cecily Wong & Dylan Thuras Review Copy from Workman Publishing If you aren't familiar with the exception resource that is  Atlas Obscura , scroll down to catch up. I've been a fan of the online version of Atlas Obscura for years and was super excited when they launched their James Beard nominated food section, Gastro Obscura . A a food lover and travel lover,  Gastro Obscura  hits my sweet spot. And, while I have been following Gastro Obscura on Instagram since they debuted in 2019, I was so excited when I heard they were publishing a book (that can now sit on the shelf next to Atlas Obscura: The Second Edition). Cleverly (and realizing that Instagram is mostly about the visuals) not too much information about the featured foods or locales they come from is handed out on social media. At the Gastro Obscura website , you can read full articles like, " Inside the Company Printing America'

Atlas Obscura: The Second Edition, An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders (revised & updated) by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras & Ella Morton, 472 pp, RL: 4

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  Atlas Obscura: The Second Edition Revised and Updated An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders  by Joshua Foer , Dylan Thuras & Ella Morton Purchased from Barnes & Noble Founded in 2009 by Thuras and Foer, Atlas Obscura began as an online catalog of obscure and unusual travel destinations, made unique by the fact that, as with all hidden local gems, these destinations are shared by people in the know. At Atlas Obscura , a global community of users continue to help to build a comprehensive database of the world's most wondrous places and foods, with 23,310 of them contributing so far. Beyond user contributions,  Atlas Obscura is a publisher of "best-in-class journalism about hidden places, incredible history, scientific marvels, and gastronomical wonders." And, as it evolved over the years, Atlas Obscura  has gone on to now organizes events, host a podcast , offer courses and "lead the world's most unusual trips to the world's mos

The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne by Jonathan Stroud, 432 pp, RL: Middle Grade

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  The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne  by Jonathan Stroud Review Copy from Random House Children's Books As a bookseller in 2003, I got my hands on an advance reader's copy of  The Amulet of Samarkand , the first book in Stroud's superlative  Bartimaeus Sequence . Already five books deep into Harry Potter and enchanted with the world of wizards, I was enthralled and impressed by Stroud's markedly different story of magic and power (and the socio-political implications of such), set in an alternate England. Four books later, in 2013, Stroud debuted his new series, Lockwood & Co . Both my son and I devoured  The Screaming Staircase , anxiously awaiting each new book in what (happily) grew to a five book series. Also set in England, the ghosts of people who suffered violent deaths rise to haunt (and hurt) the living, the consequences of a violent culture literally coming back to haunt, and in some cases, destroy, the creators, consumers and perpetrators of this violence. I