Thursday, December 30, 2010

Shaun Tan Collection!

Lost and Found

by Shaun Tan
Scholastic, April 2011
Lost and Found is one of the most beautiful books I've ever seen. The reproductions are incredible, I found myself stroking some of the pages as if I might feel the texture of the paint. Each page is a marvel, with spaces that would be "empty" in other books containing layers of texture or related print. Shaun Tan's Arrival astonished me, but I've always found it difficult to get a hold of his other books in the United States. Now, there is no excuse. I have spent hours pouring over this book, dipping into a page or story, or reading from beginning to end, and I intend to spend many more hours marveling at the splendid work.

Each story has a weight to it, at once melancholic and fantastic, uplifting in its hidden details. The story of the rabbits is a dark, sad tale, based on our own history. The Red Tree more uplifting, finding magic in the world. The stories are deep, and the illustrations do them justice, extending and expanding them in unsuspected ways.

This is a books that needs to live on a table, not a shelf. Out where people can pick it up and become amazed by stories and images that will stay with them for weeks afterward.


The Lover's Dictionary
by David Levithan
Farrar, Straus, Giroux
January 4th, 2011

A novel in dictionary entries that range from a word to a few pages. Some of the words are what you might expect, others are surprising. The story (and there is an overarching narrative) is not arranged chronologically, but alphabetically, as a dictionary would be. Due to this, I thought I'd be able to dip into it, but instead I couldn't put it down. I had to see how the pieces would fit together; I got lost in the moments. Love stories are easily overdone, but I found this story sweet (though that could be due to the teen books I usually read). Then again, sometimes a quietly sweet book is wonderful. The only regret I have is not reading it when other people were around- then I could have read passages aloud- and some of them beg for this. Buy this book before Valentine's day, and bookmark passages as you read (or annotate) and then present it as a gift.

I read some reviews of the book on ipage before I began. Some say the story is of a heterosexual couple, one of a homosexual couple. I tried figuring it out as I read, but I found I didn't care, it worked in my head either way, and eventually I just went with those images. But I still wonder what David was thinking when he wrote it.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fun Books for Winter Break

It’s still winter break, so why not pick up something fun? Here are five books guaranteed to bring some fun to your vacation.

Lunch Lady and the Bake Sale Bandit

By Jarrett J. Krosoczka

The fifth book in the best-selling Lunch Lady series is now out! Lunch Lady’s school is having a bake sale to raise money for a field trip. But before anyone can buy a tasty treat, someone steals all the goodies! There are a few people in the school who dislike bake sales, and it’s up to the Breakfast Bunch kids and Lunch Lady to discover who really stole the goodies. A wonderful addition to the Lunch Lady series, complete with an appearance by Buszilla!

Sock Monkey & Friends

9 different fun-to-make sock animal projects

by Samantha Fisher and Cary Lane

Sock monkeys are cute and easy to make, but how many people have actually made one? This kit includes directions and the materials you’ll need to make a sock monkey. Once you see how easy and fun it is, you’ll be off, rounding up all the pairless socks in your house. Besides, who can resist a sock squirrel, alligator, or owl!

Kid Made Modern

By Todd Oldham

This has got to be the coolest kid’s craft book I’ve seen. Forget the “kid’s” part, I’m ready to make these things for my apartment and myself. Using easy-to-find materials, Kid Made Modern gives easy directions for creating crafts inspired by mid-century modern design. Beautiful photographs accompany each project and each section is introduced by a profile of a mid-century designer.

The Cleaner Plate Club

More Than 100 Recipes for Real Food Your Kids Will Love

By Beth Bader and Ali Benjamin

This colorful cookbook is great for kids or adults. The introduction profiles different ingredients, as well as shopping strategies and information on nutrition and food in the United States. Other sections include how to cook seasonally, how to convert recipes for your slow-cooker, and why to shop at farmers’ markets. Fun, colorful illustrations and photos accompany these sections. The recipes include such delicious dishes as Pumpkin-White Cheddar Soup, Carrot-Quinoa “Biryani”, and Pumpkin Gnocchi. An informative cookbook for children, parents…just about anyone, really!

Papertoy Monsters

50 Cool Papertoys You Can Make Yourself!

By Castleforte and 24 papertoy designers from around the world

Silly, fun, wacky, gross, and sometimes utterly ridiculous monsters fill the pages of this book. The colors are bright, the directions are simple, and there’s no cutting involved! Each papertoy punches out of the page and is accompanied by directions for creating your wacky 3-D monster. Blank templates are provided at the back of the book so that you can create your own monsters.

Happy vacation!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie

Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie
by Julie Sternberg illustrated by Matthew Cordell
Amulet (Abrams) March 2011

It's the summer before third grade when Elinor receives terrible news, news worse than pickle juice on cookies. Bibi, the best babysitter in the world is moving away. Elinor doesn't want to do anything fun without Bibi, because fun things remind her of Bibi. But soon her parents have found a new sitter, Natalie. And while Natalie is not Bibi, maybe that will be okay.

This sweet book is shorter than it seems and Cordell's fun illustrations bring whimsy and life to the page. Great for lovers of Ivy and Bean and Clementine. Hopefully, we'll see a whole Elinor series in the future...

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Wow. Just, wow. I'm absolutely stunned by the ending of Lauren Oliver's Delerium, which I finished not 5 minutes ago. Romeo and Juliet has never been a favorite of mine, due to death by miscommunication. But death because of sacrifice is completely different. Sometimes I feel that teen romances are taken too far, there is often a sense that this is the one, the perfect partner, despite the fact that the protagonist is but sixteen. Here, I don't feel any of that. Having your ability to feel (love, hate, everything inbetween) cut off at eighteen means young romance is the only thing that's even possible, let alone probable.

In Lena's world, a person undergoes an operation at eighteen, effectively curing them of love. For if one doesn't love, there is no pain or loss, and everyone will be happy. Lena counts the days until she'll receive the cure and everything will be good and right. She'll be matched with her husband and together they'll live a safe, predictable life. But then Lena the perfect citizen, the good girl, finds someone to love. And things will never be the same.

The world Oliver has created is so real. Her reliance on everyday objects, places and activities grounds the dystopian environment and cements the connection between the reader and Lena. The one scene that truly clinched my love of this book was when Lena went to the cell in which her mother had been held, and saw one word carved over and over into the walls, a word that was both her downfall and her savior. As Lena walked the halls to the cell, smelling the refuse and mold, I felt snatches of V for Vendetta run through my mind. At other points I couldn't help but think of Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. From teen romance, best friends, high school, and illegal parties to a totalitarian government, Oliver seamlessly weaves a classic tale of love with the danger and despair of a dystopia.

It'll be out from HarperCollins in February.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Picturebooks about Winter

There are Christmas books galore, Hanukkah books, books for every possible religious holiday. But what about the books that celebrate winter? Here in Massachusetts we are lucky enough to get real snow in the winter. Snow perfect for skiing, sledding, snow-shoeing, throwing, and building. Winter is my favorite season and I like nothing better than going out to play in the snow. But for those of you less inclined to go outside, here are some winter picturebooks to enjoy with a nice cup of hot cocoa.

Learning to Ski with Mr. Magee

By Chris Van Dusen

Chronicle Books

Mr. Magee and his dog Dee set out one winter day. Mr. Magee doesn’t know how to ski, but he climbs up the hill and sets out to give it a try. But Mr. Magee isn’t good at steering or stopping yet, so what’s he to do when he runs into a moose and a ravine?

Van Dusen’s illustrations are bright, colorful, and dynamic. He has an astounding ability to capture the light of winter and the myriad of colors reflecting in snow. A perfectly delightful book for skiers or those for whom skiing is a terrifying activity. Ages 4-7.

In My Forest

By Sara Gillingham & Lorena Siminovich

Chronicle Books

This sweet boardbook features a finger puppet deer as a part of the picturebook. Babies will enjoy the bright colors, die-cut book, and finger puppet. The collage illustrations are lovely and the message perfect for a book read before bed.

Counting on Snow

By Maxwell Newhouse

Tundra Books

As we count arctic animals, snow begins to fall on the tundra. Thicker and faster it falls until the animals are almost obscured. This is a quiet book, dark but beautiful. Each scene portrays the vastness of the tundra and there is a sense of beautiful space in each illustration. Ages 2-4.


A Caldecott Honor Book

By Uri Shulevitz

Farrar Straus Giroux

It is a gray day, but a boy sees a few snowflakes in the sky. The adults dismiss the snow and the radio denies the weather but a boy and his dog go out to celebrate. This is a beautiful celebration of the magical qualities of snow. While the book begins gray and dark, the snowstorm changes the scene, leaving bright white and sky blue in its wake.

This quiet book celebrates the magical qualities of snow and the wonder it can bring. Ages 4-8.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Liked Lunch Lady? Try this.

Super Amoeba No. 1: Squish

By Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm

Random House, May 24th, 2011

Let me just start off by saying my favorite graphic novel series for the 2nd-3rd grade crowd is Lunch Lady- hands down. But what do you give the kids who have exhausted that series? Squish is a great option, especially for teachers. Setting: a world much like our own, where kids read comic books, dream of being super heroes, and there’s always a class bully. The Catch: this world is populated entirely by amoebas. That’s right, our protagonist is a single-celled organism. The opening pages introduce amoebas, giving basic scientific facts that the narrator warns, “You’ll be tested on this someday so you’d better be paying attention.” And, most kids will be tested on this someday. So, fun graphic novel with a side dish of biology facts, what’s not to like? Arrows throughout the book contain snarky narrator comments for some additional humor.