Wednesday, August 31, 2011

More Comics from First Second!

Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists!
First Second, October 11, 2011
Ages: 5 through Adult

Take fifty of incredible artists, give them a classic nursery rhyme, and let them run! Lucy Knisley turns the "Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe" into a Rock & Roll baby sitter whose charges form the band "The Whips." Raina Telgemeier sets "Georgie Porgie" at a birthday party- one that ends with a cupcake fight. Dave Roman depicts a surreal, sci-fi "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe" that is completely different from Patrick McDonnell's sweet "Donkey." Readers will find more than a few comics to adore in this compilation and maybe even discover a new graphic artist to love.

A fabulous introduction to comics format for the young and old alike. I can't wait to see a seven year-old share this with his grandparents.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dead End in Norvelt

by Jack Gantos
MacMillian, September 13, 2011
Ages: 10-14
When Jack is grounded for the entire summer, it seems as though life is entirely ruined. His mother will only let him out of the house to help old Miss Volker, who writes the obituaries of original Norvelters and the "This Day in History" column for the local paper. This means no baseball, no rides in the plane his dad is fixing up, and no drive-in movies. But something fishy is going on in Norvelt; there's a surprising number of deaths (even for old ladies), someone is moving the houses to another town, and the Hells Angels have been spotted. History and mystery combine in this funny, sharp, narrative. Jack Gantos himself reads the audio and his Pennsylvania accent transports the listener directly to Norvelt. With it's historical content and perfect wit, Dead End in Norvelt would be a wonderful choice for classrooms and bookclubs, or a surprising and enjoyable read.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Diana Wynne Jones' Last Book

Earwig and the Witch
by Diana Wynne Jones, Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
Greenwillow, Harper, February 2012
Ages 7-11

Earwig loves living at St. Morwald's Home for Children because everyone there does exactly what she wants, even her best friend Custard. So why would she ever want to be adopted and leave? Luckily, Earwig is able to deflect any attempts at adoption- that is until a strange couple comes one visiting day and adopts her. Something must be up. Sure enough, the woman is a witch and the man, well, he has horns and demons do his bidding. Most importantly, they don't do what Earwig wants them to. Well, that's fine with her. Magic can't be too difficult to learn, can it?

Earwig and the Witch has all the staples of a good fantasy- magic, orphans, & a plucky young heroine- but Jones has made something completely new and earwig does not feel just like that girl we've read about a thousand times. Zelinsky's energetic ink illustrations bring the story to life and will help keep the attention of young readers who still need visuals during storytime. Though the story ties up a bit abruptly, this is a much-needed fantasy for the Clementine crowd.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Every You Every Me

by David Levithan, photographs by Jonathan Farmer
Random House, September 13, 2011

Evan is haunted by his best friend Ariel. Ariel is gone. Her boyfriend has moved on, but Evan cannot- especially when someone begins planting photos of her. But who could have taken these photos? Is Ariel haunting Evan? Evan knew she was sick. He knew, that day in the clearing, that getting help was the right thing to do, yet he can't forgive himself for not stopping her. And he will not move on, especially when there's someone who knows things about Ariel that he doesn't.

Farmer's photos are included in the book, the reader coming across them as Evan does. They're arresting images that pull the characters into the real world, giving them more emotional power and heightening the mystery. Yet again, Levithan has created flawed yet beautiful characters who reach out from the pages and pull you in.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Why We Broke Up

By Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman

Little Brown Hachette, December 27th, 2011

Min has broken up with Ed Slaterton, and is writing him a letter chronicling their relationship and all the reasons she's breaking up with him. Min loves old films, her best friend, and coffee. According to Ed, Min was "arty" and "different." But despite Ed's role as captain of the basketball team and his popularity, Min thought she loved him. That's over now and to prove it to herself and her friends she's put together all the items, tokens, and objects she accumulated during the brief relationship. The box, and the letter, are Min's goodbye present for Ed.

Each chapter begins with an illustration of an item in the box, followed by the chapter of the relationship associated with it. A concept that could just as easily have been executed by David Levithan, Why We Broke up is a surprise from Handler. However, geeky film details and sincere teenage love- and ex-love- stories will find fans. What better way to get over your high school relationship than reading Min's story and adding your own?

Age range: 14-18 (note that there is consensual sex).

Thursday, August 25, 2011

How do you choose what books to read and what books to buy?

I received an email a few weeks ago asking this question, and quickly found myself composing an answer. So, if you find yourself wishing to know, here goes.

I have cultivated people whose opinions I respect, who I think know my taste and can be relied upon to recomend books I will truly enjoy. Buying books, I've come to recognize certain publishers and imprints that have lists I feel are very strong. After buying and reading several strong lists from Candlewick, I'll read anything published by them- even a YA novel on angels (which I really enjoyed, but never would have picked up on my own). Recently, I've been picking my way through my local library's graphic novel shelf, pulling anything published by First Second. Last winter, in the course of two weeks, I read three books by First Second, looked at their author/illustrator roster, and fell in love. Publisher reps recommend and hand me more books than I can ever hope to read. Some are announced as "the big book of the season," some are by authors I love, and others are virtual unknowns, handed to me by reps, read over lunches, truly enjoyed, and eventually hand sold in the store. Talking with people at a children's literature conference recently, I emphasized the importance of recognizing the merit of a book even if I didn't enjoy it. I can recommend and sell books I don't like if I think they have literary merit and there is an audience for them. In grad school, I think this is the main difference between people who have only read children's books for enjoyment in the past and those who work closely in the field- we who work in the field can personally detest a book, but realize it's importance or it's selling power. For the others, this is something that must be cultivated.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Night Circus

by Erin Morgenstern

Released September 13th

The Night Circus arrives and departs suddenly, its white and black tents springing up at random. And it is only open at night. Inside each tent is a marvelous wonder in black an white- fortune tellers, acrobats, illusionists, gardens of ice, and rooms of cloud. The only splashes of color are those who attend the circus, for one night reveling in it’s miraculous illusions. But there is more to the circus than one might think. The circus is a challenger’s ring, the place where two students must magically battle, each trying to outdo the other, each forced to prove that their teacher is the more powerful magician. Morgenstern’s beautiful descriptions will leave you feeling as if you’ve walked through a fantastic dreamworld in this original fantasy. Also a great Teen crossover.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Witches and fairy stories

Chime by Franny Billingsley

In a town that burns witches, Briony has a secret: she’s a witch. She caused her stepmother’s death, her twin sister’s injury, and the flooding and burning of her family’s library. When a young man comes to stay with her family, he makes her desperately wish that she were an ordinary girl, an ordinary girl who can love and cry. But as Briony tells us in the first line of her story, “I’ve confessed to everything and I’d like to be hanged. Now, if you please.” This dark, romantic mystery reveals the strength of belief in a tale readers of Holly Black will swallow.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

His Fair Assassin: Grave Mercy

by R.L. LaFever
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April 3rd, 2012
I grew up reading Tamora Pierce, whose books had the right mix of strong heroines, fights, magic, betrayal, romance, and gods. R.L. LaFever may follow in Pierce's footsteps, but Grave Mercy holds its own special magic. Ismae is a strong, beautiful heroine, and one of Death's daughters. Acting as an assassin, or one of Death's handmaidens, she delivers vengeance upon those marked for the grave. As her work brings her closer to a young Duchess and her family, Ismae begins to learn more about herself, and the devious plotting of kings and courtiers. A romance full of intrigue, poison, and ultimately finding one's way, His Fair Assassin will be a trilogy welcome to YA shelves.

Readers who swallowed Kristen Cashore's novels will find something new to love with His Fair Assassin.