Monday, January 30, 2012

Something new from Sara Pennypacker!

Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker
Balzer and Bray, April 2012

Stella is orderly, reliable, and more sensible than most adults. Her mother is flighty, which is why Stella is staying on the Cape with her great-aunt Louise and Angel. But Angel, the foster child Louise took in to be a friend, is anything but friendly. When disaster strikes, both girls suddenly find all they have is each other- and a long summer ahead.

Narrated by Stella, Summer of the Gypsy Moths is a fun yet insightful beach read, combining budding friendships with meditations on what makes a family and the importance of what we cling to. With Summer of the Gypsy Moths, Pennypacker skillfully moves to a slightly older audience and introduces new uniquely endearing characters readers will come to love.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dog Days of Summer...

Homer by Elisha Cooper
Greenwillow, May 2012

From his vantage on the porch, Homer the dog watches his family come and go. Homer doesn't need to join anyone to enjoy life- he doesn't even need to leave the porch. Elisha Cooper's watercolor and pencil illustrations perfectly capture late summer days in a beautiful depiction the simple things that make life worth celebrating.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A sweet, simple picturebook

Chloe by Peter McCarty
Balzer and Bray, May 2012

Chloe is smack in the middle of her family with ten older siblings and ten younger ones. When her dad brings home anew television, Chloe is not impressed. But bubble wrap and a big brown box? What could be better! This is a simple, sweet story. Peter McCarty's exquisite details are whimsically endearing while his delicate lines and candy-colored palette will attract readers of all ages.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Another bittersweet story from Patricia MacLachlan

Kindred Souls by Patricia MacLachlan
Katherine Tegen Books, February 2012

Jake knows his grandpa Billy is going to live forever. Billy is a part of the land, and wants to be ever closer to it as he pines for a sod house he grew up in. When Billy falls ill, Jake and his family work to recreate the sod house so that Billy can return to the earth before he dies. As always, Patricia MacLachlan has taken difficult and powerful emotions and forged an important and uplifting novel.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Dark Fairytales

Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge, illustrated by Andrea Dezso
Candlewick, July 2012

Dark, twisted, strange, and eerie, too often now our fairy tales are anything but this. But Ron Koertge instills his retellings with the fear, danger, and darkness of the originals. His Little Match Girl is a contemporary child, her story gritty and chilling. Hansel and Gretel are not nice children, and have become paranoid after their adventure in the woods. The Princess tells us of life after being bruised by a pea, imagining the marks a simple hand or kiss will leave. Andrea Dezso's intricate paper cut illustrations accompany the stories and capture the unsettling nature of Koertge's text. This frightening book is a Tale Dark and Grimm for adults and teens, and a stunning gift for lovers of fairy tales.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New from Kristin Cashore.....

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
Penguin, May 1, 2012

Kristen Cashore's third book is full of intrigue, conspiracy and secrets. Queen Bitterblue's rule is shadowed by her father's legacy of pain, fear, and torture. Believing the only way to restore her kingdom is to face the past, Bitterblue delves into forgotten histories, stories, and altered memories in her search for answers. The city offers Bitterblue an escape from her advisers and access to new ideas, information, and perhaps even love. Readers who have been waiting for this book will be glad to see beloved characters again, while those new to Cashore's work will have no problem starting with Bitterblue rather than Graceling or Fire. Deliciously thrilling and full of twists and turns (plus a little romance, of course) you'll want to dedicate a day to seeing this story through!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Quirky & Strange

Cecil the Pet Glacier by Matthea Harvey, illustrated by Giselle Potter
Schwartz & Wade Books, August 14, 2012

Ruby's mother creates tiaras and her father makes strange topiary but Ruby just wants to be normal. While she has her dolls to keep her company, she would like a nice pet, too. On vacation it seems Ruby's wish has come true when a tiny glacier follows her home. But a glacier is not what Ruby had in mind for a pet. The little glacier, named Cecil, is beloved by Ruby's parents, but it will take quite a feat indeed for Cecil to convince Ruby of his place in the family. Giselle Potter's illustrations capture the peculiarities of Ruby's life in this delightfully quirky book for the oddly imaginative reader.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Slick, retro picturebook

Randy Riley's Really Big Hit by Chris Van Dusen
Candlewick, February 14, 2012

Randy Riley is a genius too wrapped up in his own thoughts to be very good at baseball. When Randy spots a fireball through his telescope he quickly does the math- in 19 days the fireball will crash into Earth! Of course, no one believes him, so it's up to Randy to save the day! Drawing his love of robots and baseball together, Randy conceives of a singular device to save his town. This fast and fun story in verse will have kids begging, "read it again"! The real draw of this book, though, are Van Dusen's illustrations. Slick, retro, and dynamically composed, each illustration pops from the page.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Epistolary Middle Grade Novel

Same Sun Here
by Silas House and Neela Vaswani
Candlewick, February 2012

Elise was right, this book is brilliant. Though I picked up the book on Elise's suggestion, I was also drawn in by the beautiful cut-paper cover. The silhouettes of both characters allow readers to see themselves on the cover, and the vivid orange is immediately eye-catching. Faced-out, this book will call to be picked-up.

When Meena, an Indian immigrant in NYC's Chinatown, becomes pen-pals with River, a boy in rural Kentucky, it's initially for a school project. Neither imagine how much they'll write or how important having a far-away friend will become. Though it's an eventful year for both of them, the knowledge that there's a supportive friend under the same sun allows them to navigate everything from the trickiest situations to everyday life.

Though both Meena's and River's lives are very different, their small similarities pull them together long enough for them to become friends. Readers, regardless of their geographic location and immediate similarities, will find themselves in the same situation, becoming fast friends with both. Two or three times I paused because a description felt like it was coming from the adult author and not the pre-teen character, but it was not noticeable enough to keep me from racing along to see what would happen next. River's experiences with coal company practices and environmental activism provide a perfect jumping off point for teachers and book groups, as does Meena's status as an immigrant whose family is seeking citizenship. Silas and Neela smoothly weave these issues into the heart of the novel, while the epistolary format provides a perfect reason for the characters to explain aspects of these issues to one another and, by extension, the audience.

Same Sun Here
is a beautifully composed and approachable epistolary novel that will pull readers from a variety of backgrounds and leave them feeling like they've found two new best friends.