Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cookbook: Sweet & Easy Vegan

Chronicle Books has a great blog (check it out if you haven't). I loved their post on Sweet & Easy Vegan and tried two recipes from the book, both breakfast cookies.
The first recipe was for Maple-Peanut Breakfast Cookies. I substituted the flour with a gluten-free mix so that my boyfriend could try them. We're both peanut butter lovers, and loved them. Author Robin Asbell recommends storing the cookies in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Despite my doubts, the cookies were crispy straight from the fridge and I didn't even warm them up before eating. They made a quick and easy breakfast (for the 2 days they lasted!).

 The second recipe was for Coconut Mango Breakfast Cookies. Due to the almond butter, they have protein, add the oats and the mango, and you have a pretty balanced breakfast. These, too, were good straight from the fridge, though I like them better warm. As good as these are, they are more expensive to make (due to the coconut and dried mango). However, I do hope to make them again!
Robin uses sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, and agave, so though the recipes are sweet, they're not too sweet and avoid granular sugar! There are a host of bookmarks marking recipes I'd like to try and after these two, I'm certain they'll be superb.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Strange and exuberant

In Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox: The Great Pancake Adventure, Matt Luckhurst uses a vibrant palette for his tall-tale inspired tale. Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox are very big and require lots of food- more than Paul's mother can cook! Together, they head out west, doing all sorts of jobs in exchange for food- specifically pancakes. Playful typography highlights important words and phrases while fun patterns bring movement to every page. With humor, bright colors, and lots and lots of pancakes, everything about this book is exuberant!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Kel Gilligan's Daredevil Stunt Show

by Michael Buckley, illustrated by Dan Santat
Young Kel Gilligan is out to show the world that he can overcome terrifying obstacles like trying new foods, using the potty, and -horror of horrors- taking a bath. Kel Gilligan is not afraid of anything! Except, maybe, that monster under the bed... Dan Santat's illustrations capture the astonishment of Kel's family while posing Kel in dynamic superhero poses. A laugh out loud book for anyone who's had to face the obstacles of childhood, Kel Gilligan will have the whole family gearing up for their own daredevil stunts- like waiting very patiently for your turn to read this book!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Baseball in Japan & the US: a picturebook comparison

Take Me Out to the Yakyu by Aaron Meshon
Simon & Schuster, February 19, 2013
Baseball is often called the great American pastime, but it's also popular in Japan. In Take Me Out to the Yakyu, Aaron Meshon looks at the similarities and differences between baseball games in the United States and Japan. The games are presented in parallel narratives, the child narrator introducing young readers to a handful of Japanese words as well as making a cultural comparison. Aaron Meshon's illustration style combines the the quirky gouache work of Giselle Potter with (the currently popular) 50s and 60s retro, plus a touch of Japanese cute. For those interested in more information, backmatter includes a glossary and additional facts. As someone who's not a baseball fan, I was amazed at how much I enjoyed this book. Young baseball enthusiasts will gobble it up.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Metafictive picturebook

Again! by Emily Gravett
Simon & Schuster, April 23, 2013
There's a hole burned in the back of this book, but you have to read to find out why. A little dragon wants his favorite book read again and again and again before bed. His parent, of course, falls asleep before the book has been read enough times. So little dragon, turning red with anger, lets loose...causing a little damage to his favorite book (and yours). Emily Gravett has created a dynamic picturebook in which the characters break from the page. Again! is sure to have young readers calling "read it again!"

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Could win the Caldecott...

Bluebird by Bob Staake
Schwartz & Wade, Random House, April 9, 2013

In Bluebird, Bob Staake tells a story of loss, friendship, pain, and beauty. A young boy befriends a bluebird. They find ways to experience the world together until the unthinkable happens. Using a very limited palette of greys, white, and blues, Staake captures a range of emotions, from friendship to pain, to the release of flight.Bluebird is a moving wordless picture book that proves sometimes, words only get in the way of a good story.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Lucy Knisley!!!

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley
First Second, April 2, 2013
I've been following Lucy Knisley's blog for years and was excited when she mentioned she was working on a graphic novel for First Second. Finally, it's here! Raised by a caterer and a gourmand, food has always been important to Lucy Knisley. In Relish, Lucy examines moments of her life in which food played an important role. From discovering foie gras to working at a cheese counter to helping her mom at farmer's markets, each stage of her life is defined by food. Included are a series of illustrated recipes, which are necessary to have on hand as you are certain to become ravenous while reading. Relish is a delectable graphic memoir for anyone who enjoys food- whether that be fine cheeses or doughnuts. 

I've been following Lucy's blog since college and love her work. Can't wait for the event at Oblong Books! 

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Wintery Gem

Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Bryan Obed, illustrated by Barbara McClintock
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, November 6, 2012
As someone who anticipates a first snow, I reveled in Obed's descriptions of ice. While some grumble about the cold, others wait for their breath to become frosty, for the air to feel silver with ice and cold. Obed captures this feeling, distilling the essence of winter into poetic prose. She traces winter by marking each type of ice that occurs, and the fun one can have on it. Every sentence begs to be read aloud and Barbara McClintock's accompanying illustrations are exquisite. Twelve Kinds of Ice is a wintertime gem perfect for slipping into a mittened hand, curling up with beside a fire, or tucking into a stocking.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Just what is a Stardine?

Stardines Swim High Across the Sky and Other Poems 
by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Carin Berger
Greenwillow, HarperCollins, February 2013
Have you heard of a Tattlesnake or a Braindeer? How about a Magpipe? In Stardines, poet Jack Prelutsky introduces readers to sixteen strange creatures, writing a poem about each. Berger's collage illustrations accompany each poem, displaying Prelutsky's creatures in scenes inspired by the work of Joseph Cornell.  Absurd, creative, and funny, Prelutsky's poems will spark imaginations.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Kevin Henkes' Penny Series

Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes
Greenwillow, HarperCollins, February 2013
Penny, of Penny and Her Song and Penny and Her Doll, is back! This time, Penny ventures down the block where she finds a beautiful blue marble lying on Mrs. Goodwin's lawn. Penny takes the marble, but as the day goes on, Penny begins to worry that Mrs. Goodwin might miss it. Is the marble Penny's, or Mrs. Goodwin's? Penny's worry consumes her, until she decides to take action. Yet again Kevin Henkes has crafted a beautiful book that explores a very real problem faced by young readers.

Friday, October 12, 2012

New from Neil Gaiman

Chu's Day by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Adam Rex
Little Panda Chu has legendary sneezes, and his parents worry about the smell of books, pepper, and other things that might make Chu ah-choo. But what happens when Chu finally does sneeze? Neil Gaiman has written a hilarious story for young readers, vibrantly illustrated by Adam Rex.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New Terry Pratchett

Dodger by Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett weaves together mystery, fantasy, and history into a dark and humorous novel set in an alternative Victorian London. This rags to riches story features Dodger, a tosher who makes his living finding things in the sewers. Out one night, Dodger hears men beating a young woman and intervenes, rescuing her. The act will change his life forever and is the first in a series of events that bring Dodger to the attention of a Mr. Charles Dickens, newspaper man. Mr. Dickens is one of many borrowed characters to appear in Dodger, and I found myself greeting each one with delight. Readers intimidated by Pratchett's Discworld novels may find Dodger is the perfect introduction to Pratchett's many books.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Lunar Chronicles, Book 2

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Macmillan, February 5, 2013
The sequel to the best-selling Cinder, Scarlet finds Cinder trying to escape the Commonwealth's prison. Meanwhile, in France, Scarlet is searching for her grandmother, who recently disappeared. Scarlet (who always wears a red hoodie) runs into Wolf, a street fighter who may have information about her grandmother. Intent on rescuing her grandmother, Scarlet travels to Paris with Wolf and romance blossoms along the way. Cinder and Scarlet's stories gradually weave together as the stakes continue to rise.  Together, Cinder and Scarlet will have to work to thwart the Lunar Queen Levana, who is more devious than they thought, in order to save the Earth and Emperor Kai. Those who loved Cinder will devour Scarlet and howl for more. 

*My fantastic Macmillan rep, Bob, ran this ARC over to me the day he received it-- and he wasn't even back from vacation until the following day. I finished the book a few days later (this was back in July). But it just goes to show how amazing publisher reps can be.

Friday, October 5, 2012


Sailor Twain or The Mermaid in the Hudson by Mark Siegel
First Second, Macmillan
Siegal has an incredible ability to combine realistic drawings with stylized characters, yet make them feel of the same world. Twain captains the riverboat Lorelei, owned by the Frenchman Lafayette, who never leaves the boat. Lafayette's brother went missing not long ago and ever since Lafayette has been pursuing women and corresponding with the author of "Secrets and Mysteries of the River Hudson." Lafayette's particular interest is mermaids. When Twain finds a wounded mermaid, he doesn't know whom to trust, or who's already involved. The story shifts between past and present, mythology mixing with life on a riverboat. Siegal crafts a complex story with twists, turns and revelations you won't see coming. The result is nothing short of a masterpiece.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Madeline Parody

Frankenstein: A Monstrous Parody by Ludworst Bemonster
There's been a host of children's book parodies in the past few years, but Frankenstein is sure to make you laugh. A play on Madeline, Rick Walton has mirrored the form of both text and story while illustrator Nathan Hale captures the feel of Bemelman's classic illustrations, even limiting the palette of some illustrations to black, white, and Halloween orange. Frankenstein is for kids or adults, but especially those for whom Madeline is a favorite.Try pairing it with the classic for a kooky Halloween story time.

Monday, October 1, 2012

TOON Books + Frank Vivia = swooning illustrators

A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse by Frank Viva
Frank Viva's first children's book, Along a Long Road, was one of the New York Times Ten Best Illustrated Books of 2011. In Frank's new book, a boy and a mouse take a boat to Antarctica. Readers will be swept up by the sights they see and the adventures they have. Frank's limited palette and graphic style will entice both young readers and design enthusiasts. Though A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse is a Toon beginning reader, don't let that stop you from sharing it with picture book audiences!

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Town Mouse & the Country Mouse

by Helen Ward
Helen Ward sets her retelling of the Town Mouse and the Country Mouse in 1930s New York City during Christmas. While this is an interesting variation, it is Helen's illustrations that make the book a masterpiece. Exquisite details, interesting mouse-eye views, and vibrant colors can be found on every page. These breath-taking illustrations make Helen Ward's retelling worthy of any child's library.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fun fairytale twist

Goldilocks & Just One Bear by Leigh Hodgkinson
In this fun, fresh twist on Goldilocks, Little Bear, now grown, finds himself in the Big City. Escaping the bustle and noise, Little Bear finds his way into an apartment where he tries to find something just right to eat and a comfy place to sleep. When he wakes up, the golden-haired family has returned-- and one of them looks familiar... Leigh Hodgkinson's picture book is an absolute delight perfect for storytimes.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Stunning illustrations

Land of Neverbelieve by Norman Messenger
Norman Messenger introduces readers to the stunning flora and fauna of Neverbelieve in his fantastical atlas. Exquisitely detailed illustrations, diagrams, and maps invite readers to take a trip to another world. This stunning book for imaginative readers is sure to be poured over by lovers of the fantastic and may inspire readers to use the guide for their own pretend adventures.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Adorable dog picturebook

Charley's First Night by Amy Hest, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
Charley is Henry's new puppy and on his first day home, Henry shows Charley every room in the house. Henry's parents also lay down the rules of when and where Charley will be walked and fed and go to sleep. But on Charley's first night, sleeping alone in the kitchen may be too difficult and Henry will have to help him through his first night. Amy Hest and Helen Oxenbury are the perfect pair for this sweet story.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Splendors & Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz
Clara's four siblings died when she was little and their deaths still consume her family's house. Cassandra holds a powerful stone containing a magic fire that consumes her. Clara and Cassandra are drawn together by Grisini, whose skill at manipulating puppet strings carries over into manipulating people. Grisini's apprentices, Parsefall and Lizzie Rose, are pulled into the dark web as well, and the three children must find a way of manipulating their own strings before they find themselves completely tied up. Newbery Medal-winning Laura Amy Schlitz has crafted an intricate tale that will keep readers frantically turning pages as they try to discover what splendors and glooms await each character.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Dark & Hysterical

Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen, illustrated by Jeffery Stewart Timmins
Looking for a dark, grim, and absolutely hilarious book? Look no further! J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen have written a series of posthumous poems, each commemorating the demise of a different animal. Dark, detailed illustrations by Jeffery Stewart Timmins show moments before, during, or after each unpleasant death, sometimes combining elements from different poems into one fantastically funny illustration. Last Laughs is simply fabulous. Read one epitaph and you'll be hooked.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Little Tug

by Stephen Savage
This fall, Little Tug will join the ranks of beloved vehicular characters like Thomas the Tank Engine, the Little Engine That Could, and Otis the Tractor. Stephen Savage follows up Where's Walrus with a certain classic. Little Tug may not be the biggest, the fastest, or the tallest, but when other boats need assistance, Little Tug is there to help. Stephen's bold shapes and a limited palettes are reminiscent of art deco travel posters, each illustration worthy of hanging on a child's wall. Now, can Little Tug please have his own series?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz
Bloody, tragic, and dark...fairy tales shouldn't be bedtime stories. As with A Tale Dark & Grimm, Adam Gidwitz has borrowed from numerous fairy tales, threading the dark and dangerous aspects together to form a brand new story. Jack and Jill are cousins and while they do go up a hill, they also climb a magic beanstalk and hang out with a talking frog. With a snarky narrator and a fairytale moral, In a Glass Grimmly is sure to entice reluctant readers and thrill those who know their fairy tales.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Stellar Stempunk

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
Sophronia would much rather take apart mechanicals and spy on guests from the dumbwaiter than be a proper lady. Despairing, her mother sends her off to Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. But Mademoiselle Geraldine's is not an ordinary finishing school. Oh, there are etiquette lessons (from a vampire) but there's another sort finishing, too-- one that involves espionage. As would be expected at a school for espionage, there's more going on than meets the eye. Sophronia finds herself in the thick of things and it'll take her friends and her skills to find answers. Etiquette & Espionage is Steampunk at its best and an absolute delight from beginning to end. 

My roommate (an indie bookseller) and I agree that this book is more fun than the Parasol Protectorate. It's as if Gail has allowed herself to have a little more fun and freedom in writing for YA audiences. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

New YA Series from Juliet Marillier

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier
Neryn is alone in a country ruled by a king who has outlawed gifted individuals. Anything seeming magical or fey is outlawed, and those possessing such gifts are killed. Neryn can see the Good Folk, talk to them, and they'll even come to her aid. Starving and alone, with soldiers out to capture her, Neryn sets out for Shadowfell, a place that supposedly hides rebels and would welcome her and her gift. But getting to Shadowfell is no easy task. The Good Folk are testing her and a mysterious man is following her and she's not sure who means her harm and who's helping. Juliet Marillier is a masterful fantasy writer whose books mix folktales, courage, and romance; the result is captivating. That being said, I think this is not as strong as many of her adult books. The concept is wonderful, but the plot lags in the middle.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A New Toon Book! (I do so love them)

Maya Makes a Mess by Rutu Modan 
Toon Books, Candlewick Press, August 14th, 2012

Rutu Modan brings her Eisner Award-winning talents to emerging readers in the Toon graphic novel Maya Makes a Mess. Maya's parents don't like her messy table manners, so what will the queen think? Well, it turns out the queen is willing to make allowances for a guest, and declares the evening one of messy manners. The result is ridiculous and hysterical, perfect for messy eaters or those who are forbidden to have their own fun at the table.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Beautiful picturebook

Black Dog by Levi Pinfold
Candlewick, October, 9th, 2012
There's an enormous black dog outside and everyone who sees it decides it will be best to hide. Everyone, that is, except Small, who ventures outside. It seems that Small knows something about this dog that the rest of the family does not. The colors, details, and textures of Pinfold's illustrations are exquisite. Like A House in the Woods, it's bound to be an indie classic.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Good graduation book


Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein

Because Amelia smiles, Mrs. Higgins sends cookies to her grandson. This kindness inspires a smile and a gift, too. Pretty soon Amelia's smile has set off a string of kindness. The colors and movement of Stein's illustrations dance around reader as they're taken around the world to see the glorious effect of one good thing in this inspiring picturebook.

Friday, August 3, 2012


by Sally Murphy 
Candlewick, August 14th, 2012

John loves arranging long, intricate domino runs, and then toppling them. When his best friend Dominic gets sick in class and doesn't return to school, John makes domino runs instead of worrying. But then it turns out that Dom isn't just sick, he has cancer. John tells his story in chapters of poetry, the lines lining up like a domino run. But while he'll topple dominoes, John and his friends will support Dom in every way they can, so that that cancer doesn't topple him. Sally Murphy has a gift for dealing with difficult emotions in poetic form, and Toppling is a good book it have around for the right someone who needs it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Otter & Odder

by James Howe, illustrated by Chris Raschka
Candlewick, October 9th, 2012

Otter is looking for food and finds love. They happen to be the same thing-- a fish named Myrtle. The other animals will not tolerate this odd behavior, and Myrtle cannot love an otter who eats her friends and family. With the help of a wise Beaver, will Otter live "happily ever after" with his fish? Or is his tale destined to end "And so their love could never be?" Chris Raschka's abstract crayon and watercolor illustrations exude playfulness, their colors highlighting the emotions of James Howe's wonderful text. 

I was lucky enough to have tea with Chris at Book Expo America and it turns out that the illustrations for this book are actually reproductions from the dummy he submitted. He did some finals for the book, but none were really working. His editor really loved the dummy, though, and decided it was perfect for the final. I'm assuming this is why the illustrations for Otter and Odder are so abstractly geometric and use crayon line instead of ink line.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A companion book to I Want My Hat Back!

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
Candlewick, October 9th, 2012

Jon Klassen follows I Want My Hat Back with another hat tale but in this one, we hear the story from the point of view of the thief. A little fish has snatched a stylish blue bowler hat from an enormous sleeping fish. Though the little fish assures us that the big fish will not wake up, will not follow him, and will not know which way he went, the illustrations tell a different story. Humorous, smart, and with beautiful illustrations, This is Not My Hat is absolutely stellar. I wonder what hat will be stolen next-- cowboy? top hat? Baseball? I just hope it isn't mine.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Search & Find


Look! Another Book! by Bob Staake
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, December 2012

Finally! a follow up to Look! A Book! Bob Staake has created a series of zany illustrations with tons of objects for readers to search and find. From an art museum to recess to outer space, each scene is bursting with funny characters and hidden objects. Also be on the lookout for the funniest book dedication I've ever seen.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sweet Halloween Story

The Monster's Monster by Patrick McDonnell
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, September 4th, 2012

Grouch, Grump, and little Gloom 'n' Doom may think they're terrifying monsters, but it must be said that they all look a little cute. Determined to be the baddest of the bad, they build the biggest baddest monster ever, a monster whose first words are..."Dank you!" accompanied by a hug. Whatever will Grouch, Grump, and Gloom 'n' Doom do? Caldecott honor-winner Patrick McDonnell's spirited illustrations will charm readers. A great pick for your own monsters-- whether or not they're the biggest and baddest.

Saturday, July 21, 2012



Sky Color by Peter Reynolds 
Candlewick, August 28th, 2012

"Take a breath and look around you" seems to be what Peter Reynolds is telling readers. In Sky Color, the last book in his Creatrilogy (along with The Dot and Ish), Marisol must paint the sky without the color blue. A dilemma posed by many an art teacher, Marisol ultimately comes up with a solution, one arrived at by examining the world around her. Simple and inspiring, Sky Color shows readers just how much of art is perception.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

From the author/illustrator of Smile...

Drama by Raina Telgemeier 
Graphix, Scholastic, September 1st, 2012

Fuchsia-haired Callie loves theatre. She can't sing so she puts her energy into designing sets and working stage crew. But drama kids tend to create drama. This year Callie's good friend is ignoring her after she kissed his brother, there are two cute twins in town, oh, and Callie has to figure out how to create a working cannon (okay, confetti instead of flames) before the show opens. Of course, there are additional bumps along the way, but no matter what, the show must go on. With Drama, Rania has shown (yet again) her ability to write funny, dramatic, and emotionally truthful graphic novels that tap into the middle school experience; I can't wait to see what she does next.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Great gothic


The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron
Scholastic, September 2012

Katharine Tulman is an orphan whose survival depends on her ability to figure accounts for her aunt. Hearing that her uncle may be squandering her cousin's inheritance, Katharine is sent to his estate to declare him insane and have him committed. But what she finds is a childlike man with a genius for creating clockwork and an entire village rescued from the poorhouses who support him. Katharine must choose between her future and that of the village, and on the estate, she's experiencing the first days of freedom she's ever known. Madness and mystery, fortunes and romance, The Dark Unwinding is the fantastic result of mixing clockwork and Jane Eyre-- steampunk fans will cry for more.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Brilliant Debut

The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann
Greenwillow Books, HarperCollins, September 2012

Bartholomew is a Peculiar, a changeling, not fairy nor human, and therefore must spend his days hidden in his mother's dirty flat. It's dangerous to be a changeling, especially since the murders began. But when his sister goes missing, Bartholomew knows she'll end up dead, too, if he doesn't do something. Mr. Jelliby lives a posh, comfortable life, with a job in government. But when he accidentally sees something he shouldn't in a fairy's house, he must go out and right a wrong. Each trying to solve the murder of the Peculiars, these two unlikely heroes (and even more unlikely friends) end up in places they never dreamed of doing things they never wished to imagine. A beautifully written debut novel, The Peculiar combines steampunk, fairies, and dark magic, creating something wholly original. Most notable is Bachman's ability to weave the tales of both a young boy and that of a middle-aged man together, and have them both be intriguing.

The fairies in this book remind me of those in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell-- a book I adore.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Teen Zombies!

Undead by Kirsty McKay
Scholastic, September 2012

Bobby just wants her school trip to be over. She's sick of the bus and the fact that she's out of place as the only American. When the bus stops for a break, everyone but Bobby and the trouble-making Smitty get off. Bobby may have thought her classmates couldn't get any worse, but when they come back with a hunger for brains, there is no mercy. Undead is a teen zombie adventure in the Scottish wilderness chock-full of action adventure and teen drama, all doused in dark humor. It's thoroughly enjoyable, especially if you love Shaun of the Dead.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Wordless picturebook

Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole
Scholastic, November

Set during the Civil War, Unspoken follows a young girl as she discovers the secrets of her family's farm. Though we never see who is hiding in the hen house, the illustrations carry the protagonist's urgency to protect and care for whomever is using this stop on the underground railroad. Henry Cole's graphite illustrations capture details and carry powerful emotions. Though wordless, Henry has included an author's note at the end that tells his story and encourages readers to "write the words and make this story your own-- filling in all that has been unspoken." A wordless masterpiece on the underground railroad, Unspoken will appeal to those who pour over Brian Selznick's work.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Literary chocolate bar

The Lynburn Legacy #1: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
Random House, September 11th, 2012

This is the most enjoyable young adult novel I've read (thus far) this year. Kami Glass has always had a best friend whom no one has ever met-- she hears his voice in her head. She hides it well enough until he actually shows up, and it turns out they have more of a connection than simple communication. But this boy is a member of the Lynburn family who has protected the people of Sorry-in-the-Wale for centuries while also requiring certain sacrifices. When bodies start showing up and mysterious attempts are made on Kami's life, she decides to investigate with the aid of two lovestruck Lynburn boys, her sarcastic best friend, and the school's residence bombshell. With a stellar cast and a bold and witty heroine, Sarah Rees Brennan will win your heart from the first page. The perfect combination of dark and funny, I couldn't put Unspoken down. When can I have the sequel?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Realistic coming of age novel

Fish in the Sky by Fridrik Erlings
Candlewick, September 11th, 2012

When Josh turns thirteen, his father sends him a stuffed falcon. Besides his aunt's pear tart, it is the only good thing that happens. His seventeen-year-old female cousin moves into the storage room connected to his room, he thinks he's in love, his best friend seems babyish, and his body begins changing-- making school unbearable. So Josh stops going to school. He wanders, trying to figure out who this terrible person is that he's becoming. Erling portrays Josh's emotions with brutal honestly, capturing the confusion of becoming a teen with realistic detail. Young teens will see a reflection of themselves in Josh while their parents (who should be required to read the book) will be reminded of the difficulties of coming-of-age.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Fabulous, flavorful, middle grade

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage 
Dial, Penguin, May 10th, 2012

Mo (or Moses) LoBeau received her name when she was rescued from a river after a hurricane. The Colonel who rescued her lost his memory in the storm and his past and Mo's are shrouded in mystery. Since then, Mo has been trying to find her upstream mom-- when she's not helping Miss Lana out at the Colonel's cafe or running about with her best friend Dale. But when a local man shows up dead, Mo decides to tackle a mystery besides her past. With delightful Southern flavor and just the right amount of quirkiness, Three Times Lucky is a thoroughly enjoyable mystery that will have readers guessing right up to the end. Shelia Turnage's voice brings the tale to life, her accent transporting the listener directly to the small town of Tupelo Landing, NC. A great choice for readers who enjoyed Pie by Sarah Weeks or The Secret Tree by Natalie Standiford.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I love Oliver Jeffers' books [part 2]

The Hueys in the New Sweater by Oliver Jeffers
Philomel, Penguin, May 24th, 2012

I'm so glad the Hueys will have their own series! The Hueys are simple creatures who all look alike and who all like to do the same things (though they may do them differently). But when Rupert knits himself a bright orange sweater, the Hueys suddenly have to deal with something different. But when everyone decides to be different, what does different even mean? Jeffers has created a deceptively simple book that questions what it means to be unique. For classrooms or storytimes, try pairing it with Mo Willems' Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed.

*Just so you know, I always fall for fabulous British names. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

I love Oliver Jeffers' books [part 1]


This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers
Philomel, Penguin, November 13th, 2012

When a moose comes Wilfred's way, he knows it was meant for him, so he names it Marcel. While Marcel only follows Wilfred's rules when he wants to, Wilfred thinks he's a pretty good pet-- that is, until someone else claims the moose is really hers.Instead of his usual minimalist backgrounds, Jeffers mixes it up, using old prints and paintings to set the scene. Oliver Jeffers is brilliant and This Moose Belongs to Me is humorous, quirky, all-around fun for children and adults alike.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

YA Thriller


Daylight Saving by Edward Hogan 
Candlewick, September 11th, 2012

Daniel and his father are spending their vacation at Leisure World, a sports-themed vacation complex. Daniel has no interest in sports or spending time with his depressed and often drunk father. While hanging out by the pond, Daniel sees a mysterious girl who swims beautifully. But each time he sees her, she seems to have accumulated more bruises and cuts-- and her watch ticks backwards. Daniel is drawn to her, and soon he finds mysterious cuts and bruises on his own body. Who is this strange girl? Where did she come from? And is she even alive?

Daniel is a complex character with realistically rendered emotions. Hogan deals with heavy issues including assault, murder, and bullying, so I do recommend ages 14+, but his treatment of these issues is through the eyes of of a teenager, allowing readers to come to terms with them as Daniel does. Gripping and terrifying, Daylight Saving is a thriller you won't want to miss-- or read alone at night.

Not the sort of thing I normally read, but once I started, I couldn't put it down!

Monday, June 18, 2012

New novel from Rebecca Stead


Liar & Spy 
Wendy Lamb Books, Random House, August 7th, 2012

When Georges (named after the painter Georges Seurat) moves from his house to a new apartment, he meets Safer, a strange, Sherlockian boy, who inducts him into a spy club. Safer is obsessed with the upstairs neighbor, Mr. X, and convinces Georges that Mr. X is up to something sinister. But Georges already has his own problems. His father is trying to start new business after losing his job, his mother is never home, and two boys are bullying him at school. Safer's spy activities are getting more and more serious, and they have Georges worried- can he stop spying and risk losing his only friend? Only the advice of his namesake- stepping back to look at the larger picture- will help Georges solve his problems.

A New York City setting, quirky yet believable characters, and true friendship make Liar & Spy a great read for those who have enjoyed Stead's Newbery Award winner or RJ Palacio's Wonder. Like When You Reach Me, Liar & Spy ends with a twist and a turn you won't see coming; it'll make you want to read it all over again.

Friday, June 15, 2012

From Lauren Oliver, a portal fantasy

The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver 
Harper, September 18, 2012
One morning, Liza's brother Patrick is different. Her mother and her father don't notice anything, but Liza is certain that the Spindlers, wicked spider-creatures who live underground, have stolen her brother's soul. While Patrick may annoy her, Liza will do anything to get him back. Liza braves darkness and things that go bump in the night to journey below. There she meets Mirabella, a rat who prefers clothes, who agrees to guide Liza to the Spindler Queen. Readers will be amazed by the sights Liza sees and the creatures she meets, from the gnome-like Troglods who barter with lost items from Above, to the palace of the fairy-like Nids. But can Liza best the terrifying Spindler queen? Or will she lose her brother's soul-- and her own? Lauren Oliver has created an inventive portal fantasy full of fascinating characters and classic challenges that is a fantastic read-aloud for families.

I still like Liesl and Po best, but think Laika should make of movie of this in the same style as Coraline.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Even though I'm not an animal person...

Kizzy Ann Stamps by Jeri Watts
Candlewick, August 14, 2012
Kizzy Ann Stamps speaks her mind. So when she's asked to send a letter to her new teacher at the formerly white school, Kizzy expresses her concerns at being one of the students integrating the school. But what starts as letters evolves into an extensive journal when school begins. With her teacher's encouragement, Kizzy pours her thoughts, problems, and puzzles onto the page. In addition to navigating the shifting social order at school, Kizzy worries about the glances her scar attracts, the neighbor boy who hangs around, and her collie, Shag. While writing gives her a chance to process the changes in her life, training Shag to be a herder gives her a purpose and the chance to make new friends. Jeri Watts has created a strong protagonist whose questions about race and friendship will inspire readers to consider the world around them. When you finish, you'll wish you had your own Shag to walk with you through life.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Remember Lulu & the Brontosaurus?

Lulu Walks the Dogs by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Lane Smith
Finally, a follow-up to the fantastic Lulu and the Brontosaurus! While Lulu's run-in with Mr. B may have stopped some of her brutish behavior, Lulu is still a demanding and determined girl and this time she wants a special something. (And I won't tell you what it is because I don't want to ruin the surprise.) So when her parents tell her she'll have to earn the money to purchase this special something on her own, Lulu decides on the perfect job: dog walking. Unfortunately, the dogs are as difficult as Lulu. Neighbor Fleishman offers to help, but he's worst than the dogs with his perfect little goody-two-shoes ways and all Lulu wants to do is stomp him (I think you will, too). This quirky sequel will have kids (and their parents) rolling with laughter and singing money songs. With short chapters and hilarious illustrations by Lane Smith, Lulu Walks the Dogs can be read aloud to patient listeners, or tackled by strong new readers. Now I just have to come up with a clever rhyming song to cajole Ms. Viorst into writing another Lulu tale.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tell Me About Your Day Today

by Mem Fox, illustrated by Lauren Stringer
Beach Lane Books (Simon & Schuster), September 4, 2012
Mem Fox is a genius when it comes to picturebook text. Her text is sparse, with just enough repetition, room for illustrations, and it begs to be read aloud. Tucked into bed, a young boy asks each of his toys what they did that day. As each toy answers, the illustrations reveal how his story connects with the others, culminating in how the boy's actions brought about each toy's experiences. A wonderful new bedtime book from a picturebook master.