Books for Younguns, Young Adults and the Young-at-Heart

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Ball for Daisy

Daisy loves her ball!  She takes it everywhere with her and plays with it all the time.  So what is she to do when it deflates?

A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka is one of The New York Times' Best Illustrated Childrens' Books of 2011 and the winner of the 2012 Caldecott Medal.

The wordless tale of love and loss is a gentle introduction to grief.  Daisy's emotions leap off the page, from her joy playing with her ball to her despair at its demise.  This is a very simple storyline, fleshed out entirely by the evocative watercolor and ink illustrations.  There is a freeness to Raschka's forms accompanied by attention to the small details like Daisy's whiskers that combine to capture feeling extremely precisely.  The lack of words allows children of all ages to experience the story directly and at their own pace.  A connection is forged between the reader and Daisy, and we feel her highs and lows along with her.  And not to worry, there is a happy ending in sight.

 A Ball for Daisy is published by Schwartz & Wade and retails for $16.99 (hardcover).  I read my copy by picking it up from the shelves for a few minutes.  You can get yours at Left Bank Books today!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday News Round-Up

News from the publishing world:
--The nominations for the 2012 Academy Awards were announced.  Hugo based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (previously reviewed) led the field with 11 nominations (Best Picture, Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design, Directing, Film Editing, Music (Original Score), Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects and Writing (Adapted Screenplay)).  Also nominated were War Horse based on the novel of the same name by Michael Morpurgo (Best Picture, Cinematography, Art Direction, Music (Original Score), Sound Editing and Sound Mixing), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 based on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (Art Direction, Makeup and Visual Effects), and The Adventures of Tintin based on the graphic novel series of the same name by Herge (Music (Original Score)).

--A new production photo from the film The Hunger Games (based on the novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins) was revealed.

--The nominations for the for the NAACP Image Awards were announced.  The literature category includes nominees for:
Outstanding Literary Work--Children
Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Tim Bowers
Before There Was Mozart by Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrated by James Ransome
Heart and Soul by Kadir Nelson
White Water by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein and illustrated by Shandra Strickland
You Can Be a Friend by Tony and Lauren Dungy and illustrated by Ron Mazellan
Outstanding Literary Work--Youth/Teens
Camo Girl by Kekla Magoon
Eliza's Freedom Road: An Underground Railroad Diary by Jerdine Nolan and illustrated by Shadra Strickland
Jesse Owens: I Always Loved Running by Jeff Burlingame
Kick by Walter Dean Myers
Planet Middle School by Nikki Grimes

--The American Library Association announced its 2012 Youth Media Award Winners:
John Newbery Medal for outstanding contribution to children's literature
Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
Newbery Honor Books
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin
Randolph Caldecott Medal for most distinguished American picture book for children
A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka
Caldecott Honor Books
Blackout by John Rocco
Grandpa Green by Lane Smith (previously reviewed)
Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell (previously reviewed)
Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults
Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
Prints Honor Books
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and illustrated by Maira Kalman
The Returning by Christine Hinwood
Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award recognizing an African American author of outstanding books for children and young adults
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson
King Author Honor Books
The Great Migration: Journey to the North by Eloise Greenfield and illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist
Never Forgotten by Patricia C. McKissack and illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon (previously reviewed)
Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award recognizing an African American illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults
Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom by Shane W. Evans
King Illustrator Honor Book
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson
Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement
Ashley Bryan
Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience
close to famous by Joan Bauer
Wonderstruck: A Novel in Words and Pictures by Brian Selznick
The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen
Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults
Susan Cooper
May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award recognizing an author, critic, librarian, historian or teacher of children's literature, who then presents a lecture at a winning host site
Michael Morpurgo
Mildred L. Batchelder Award for an outstanding children's book translated from a foreign language and subsequently published in the United States
Soldier Bear by Bibi Dumon Tak, illustrated by Philip Hopman and translated by Laura Watkinson
Batchelder Honor Book
The Lily Pond by Annika Thor and translated by Linda Schenck
Andrew Carnegie Medal for excellence in children's video
Children Make Terrible Pets based on the book by Peter Brown
Odyssey Award for best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States
Rotters by Daniel Kraus
Odyssey Honor Audiobooks
Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri
Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Young Fredle by Cynthia Voigt
Pura Belpre (Illustrator) Award honoring a Latino illustrator whose children's books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience
Diego Rivera: His World and Ours by Duncan Tonatiuh
Belpre Illustrator Honor Books
The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos and illustrated by Rafael Lopez
Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match/Marisol McDonald no combina by Monica Brown and illustrated by Sara Palacios
Pura Belpre (Author) Award honoring a Latino author whose children's books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience
Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Belpre Author Honor Books
Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck by Margarita Engle
Maximilian and the Mystery of the Guardian Angel: A Bilingual Lucha Libre Thriller by Xavier Garza
Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children
Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade by Melissa Sweet
Sibert Honor Books
Black and White: The Confrontation between Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene "Bull" Connor by Larry Dane Brimnerand
Drawing from Memory by Allen Sayand
The Elephant Scientist by Caitlin O'Connell and Donna M. Jackson with photographs by Caitlin O'Connell and Timothy Rodwell
Witches!: The Absolutely True Story of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Shanzer
Stonewall Book Award-Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children's and Young Adult Literature Award given annually to English-language children's and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience
Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright
Stonewall Honor Books
a + e 4ever by Ilike Merey
Money Boy by Paul Yee
Pink by Lili Wilkinson
with or without you by Brian Farrey
Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished beginning reader book
Tales for Very Picky Eaters by Josh Schneider
Geisel Honor Books
I Broke My Trunk by Mo Willems
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen (previously reviewed)
See Me Run by Paul Meisel
William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens
Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
Morris Award Finalists
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard
Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults, ages 12-18, each year
The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism and Treachery by Steve Sheinkin
YALSA Award Finalists
Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom and Science by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos
Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition by Karen Blumenthal
Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (with a Few Flat Tires along the Way) by Sue Macy
Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein by Susan Goldman Rubin

Links via Shelf Awareness

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Search for WondLa

Eva Nine has never met any other humans.  She's been raised underground by the robot Muthr, training continually to survive on the surface.  But when she's chased unexpectedly out of her home, what she finds up there doesn't look anything like the simulations...

The Search for WondLa, written and illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi, is the first book in the WondLa trilogy.

This story is a twist on the traditional child-displaced-into-another-world tale in that this child doesn't come from our world any more than the world on the surface.  The goal here isn't to get Eva Nine back home, but to find out if she even has a home in the first place.  She goes through every child's desire to find where they belong, magnified by her thought that she might truly be alone in the world.  But what a world it is.  The settings and characters are richly drawn, both in words and in the fantastical illustrations.  You will definitely want to revisit them in future books.  As a side note, I could not get the interactive online elements to work, but I don't think this will diminish enjoyment.

The Search for WondLa is published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and retails for $17.99 (hardcover).  I bought my Advance Readers Copy used with my very own money.  You can get yours at Left Bank Books today!

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis

In a time when America had a sharp divide between black and white, the country banded together around an African-American boxer as he challenged Germany's Max Schmeling for the world heavyweight title on the eve of World War II.

 A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis by Matt de la Pena and illustrated by Kadir Nelson is one of The New York Times Best Illustrated Childrens' Books for 2011.  It is also my January review for the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2012.

Not surprisingly for a Kadir Nelson book, this is a richly illustrated account with a powerful sense of realism mixed in with the artistry.  Shadow and light is used to great effect and scenes are framed in unique ways to force a different perspective.  De la Pena's text is simple and to-the-point, making it accessible to younger readers while not skirting the difficult issues brought up by a story framed in the racism of both America and Germany in the 1940s.  This is a wonderful introduction to a too-often-unsung hero of the African-American community and America as a whole.

A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis is published by Dial and retails for $17.99 (hardcover).  I read my copy by picking it up from the shelves for a few minutes.  You can get yours at Left Bank Books today!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday News Round-Up

News from Page Appropriate:

--Our first book giveaway for Cinder by Marissa Meyer is still open over at the review page.

News from the publishing world:

--At the Golden Globe Awards, Martin Scorsese won Best Director for Hugo (based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (previously reviewed)) and The Adventures of Tintin (based on The Adventures of Tintin series by Herge) won Best Animated Feature Film.

--Select Target stores will be screening an unknown scene from The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 at the DVD release party for Part 1 (both based on Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer).  They will also offer Limited Collector's Edition versions of the DVD, complete with a real prop flower from the wedding scene.

--The Association of Jewish Libraries announced the 2012 Sydney Taylor Book Awards:
Winner for Younger Readers
-Chanukah Lights by Michael J. Rosen with artwork by Robert Sabuda (previously reviewed)
Winner for Older Readers
-Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein by Susan Goldman Rubin
Winner for Teen Readers
-The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow
Honor Books for Younger Readers
-Naamah and the Ark at Night by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, illustrated by Holly Meade
-Around the World in One Shabbat by Durga Yael Bernhard
Honor Books for Older Readers
-Lily Renee, Escape Artist: From Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer by Trina Robbins, illustrated by Anne Timmons and Mo Oh
-Hammerin' Hank Greenberg: Baseball Pioneer by Shelley Sommer
-Irena's Jar of Secrets by Marcia Vaughan, illustrated by Ron Mazellan
Honor Books for Teen Readers
-Then by Morris Gleitzman
-The Blood Lie by Shirley Reva Vernick
Notable Books for Younger Readers
-Picnic at Camp Shalom by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Debbie Melmon
-The Golem's Latkes by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Aaron Jasinski
-Joseph and the Sabbath Fish by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Martina Peluso
-Sadie's Sukkah Breakfast by Jamie Korngold, illustrated by Julie Fortenberry
-The Shabbat Princess by Amy Meltzer, illustrated by Martha Aviles
-Lipman Pike: America's First Home Run King by Richard Michelson, illustrated by Zachary Pullen
-The Littlest Mountain by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Melanie Hall
-I Will Come Back for You: A Family in Hiding during World War II by Marisabina Russo
-Marcel Marceau: Master of Mime by Gloria Spielman, illustrated by Manon Gauthier
-One Little Chicken by Elka Weber, illustrated by Elisa Kleven
Notable Books for Older Readers
-The Mishkan: Its Structure and Its Sacred Vessels by Rabbi Avrohom Biderman
-Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy by Albert Marrin
-The Cats in the Doll Shop by Yona Zeldis McDonough, illustrated by Heather Maione
-When Life Gives You OJ by Erica S. Perl
-Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto by Susan Goldman Rubin, illustrated by Bill Fransworth
-Terezin: Voices from the Holocaust by Ruth Thomson
Notable Books for Teens
-OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy
-Requiem: Poems of the Terezin Ghetto by Paul Janeczko

Links via Shelf Awareness

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


In the distant future of New Beijing, cyborgs are second-class citizens with rights similar to property.  This is bad news for Cinder, whose legal guardian treats her as a servant.  When her youngest stepsister, the only person who treats her as a friend, comes down with the letumosis that is plaguing the world, Cinder is volunteered for vaccine research where the map of her genetics makes her unknown past start to fall into place.  Meanwhile, it seems more and more likely the handsome Prince Kai will be trapped into a marriage alliance with the evil Queen of the Lunar colony, if only he could stop thinking of Cinder...

Cinder by Marissa Meyer is the first book in the Lunar Chronicles quartet.  It is also my first review for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge.

This may be the first book to combine the recent trends of dystopian future and fairy tale retellings.  This is not a bad thing.  Meyer does a wonderful job justifying the parallels between the stories of Cinder and Cinderella without anything seeming forced.  She also removes many of the problematic elements of her source material (Why did Cinderella's father marry such a horrible woman?  Does the protagonists main goal really have to be attending the ball?) in order to make a more compelling and relatable story.  That said, the story can be somewhat predictable and this installment of the series reaches very little resolution on its own.  All in all, this is fast-moving and engaging debut that has me looking forward to the rest of the series.

Cinder is published by Feiwel & Friends and retails for $17.99 (hardcover).  I got my Advance Reader's Edition from the publisher (but this review was not solicited or otherwise compensated).  You can get yours at Left Bank Books today!

Would you like a chance to win your own Advance Reader's Edition of Cinder?  Just leave a comment including your e-mail address.  I'll select the winner at random one week from today.  Winners must be able to pick up their book at Left Bank Books in the Central West End.

Monday, January 16, 2012

We March

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr., led 250,000 people in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  This is the story of one family who was there.

We March by Shane W. Evans is featured for Martin Luther King Day.

This is a great introduction to the Civil Rights Movement for the youngest readers.  Presented in short and simple concepts, along with bright and blocky illustrations, there is no over-intellectualizing to bog down this account.  The children featured in this tale get up and get dressed like any normal day, but instead of going about their usual business, they make signs and join thousands of other people to march on Washington and hear Dr. King's iconic speech.  The idea of fighting for equality is gently introduced by showing how even children could get involved in a social movement.

We March is published by Roaring Brook Press and retails for $16.99 (hardcover).  I read my copy by picking it up from the shelves for a few minutes.  You can get yours at Left Bank Books today!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday News Round-Up

News from the store:

--For a limited time, we have signed copies of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars.

News from the publishing world:

--Chris Weitz has been hired to rewrite MGM's Heck, a film based on Dale E. Basye's Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go, originally penned by David Iserson.  Alex Timbers is expected to direct.

--The Writers Guild of America nominated John Logan's script for Hugo, the film based on Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret, for best adapted screenplay of 2011.

--Rick Riordan appeared on Rock Center with Brian Williams to reveal the cover and title of the final installment of The Kane Chronicles.

--The winners of the 2011 National Jewish Book Awards were announced, including best children's and young adult literature, Deadly: How Do You Catch an Invisible Killer by Julie Chibbaro (finalists:  In the Face of Evil by Tema N. Meback, To Hope and Back: The Journey of the St. Louis by Kathy Kacer and Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein by Susan Goldman Rubin) and best illustrated children's book, The Golem's Latke's adapted by Eric A. Kimmel and illustrated by Aaron Jasinski (finalists:  Lipman Pike, America's First Home Run King by Richard Michelson and illustrated by Zachary Pullen and Marcel Marceau, Master of Mime by Gloria Speilman and illustrated by Manon Gauthier).

--Dr. Milburn Calhoun, president of Pelican Publishing Company, which specializes in children's books, passed away on Saturday at the age of 81.

--Walter Dean Myers spoke with David Greene on NPR's Morning Edition just before being sworn in at the Library of Congress as ambassador for Young People's Literature.

Links via Shelf Awareness

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Hugo Cabret splits his time between keeping the clocks of the Paris train station running to cover for his disappeared uncle and repairing the automaton that is his last connection to his father.  But when his life becomes entangled with the man who runs the station's toy booth and his goddaughter, Hugo may find his mechanical man holds the secret to more than his father's work.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick is a Caldecott Medalist and the basis of the motion picture Hugo.

With this book, Selznick combines traditional wordless picture books and traditional pictureless chapter books to tell a story that is cinematic in scope and feel.  His sketchy pencil illustrations combined with vintage film stills flesh out the narrative in a way simple description cannot.  Each picture is framed the way an expert director would, a technique Martin Scorsese clearly took note of when directing the film.  After having read the book, each scene feels like revisiting a familiar landscape, so similar are the visuals.  Film fans will find more reasons than that to enjoy this tale, although nothing more can be said without giving too much away.  This is a beautiful book, worthy of a place on most any shelf.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is published by Scholastic Press and retails for $24.99 (hardcover).  I bought my copy with my very own money.  You can get yours at Left Bank Books today!

Monday, January 9, 2012

A New Year's Reunion

Chinese New Year is exciting on its own, but even more so for Maomao because its the one time of year Papa comes home from his far away job.  Together they celebrate the festivities, but also the mundane parts of being a family.

A New Year's Reunion written by Yu Li Qiong and illustrated by Zhu Cheng Liang is one of The New York Times Best Illustrated Childrens' Books for 2011.

Little Maomao's narration captures her excitement at her father's homecoming along with the strangeness of meeting a man she knows she loves, but who spends most of the year away.  The thrill of the holiday is palpable, from the parades to the fireworks to finding the lucky coin hidden in the rice balls.  The bright and bold illustrations add to the stimulus, creating a feeling of a treasured time that flies by too fast.

A New Year's Reunion is published by Candlewick and retails for $15.99 (hardcover).  I read my copy by picking it up from the shelves for a few minutes.  You can get yours at Left Bank Books today!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday News Round-Up 1/6

Some words about this blog:  Now that we're out of the holiday/blog inauguration flurry of activity, it's time to assume a regular posting schedule.  It's going to look a little like this:

Monday: New-release picture book review
Tuesday: Optional editorial day for when I have in-depth opinions about things
Wednesday: New-release middle grade or young adult review
Thursday: Special series review
Friday: News round-up with open thread

You might notice a couple badges along the right side, there.  The first is the Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge 2012.  By taking this challenge, I have agreed to review 12 non-fiction picture books in 2012.  To accomplish this, at least once a month, my Monday review will be non-fiction.  Next we have the 2012 Debut Author Challenge.  This challenge has me reviewing 12 middle grade or young adult debuts in 2012.  These authors can be previously published in other countries or have existing adult or children's titles, as long as it is their U.S. MG or YA debut.  This means one of my Wednesday reviews each month will be by a debut author.  Last is the Newbery Medal Reading Challenge.  This is a very casual challenge to simply read Newbery Medal-winning books with the specifics set by each participant.  I have elected to read the books from least- to most-recent, skipping titles that are not available from Left Bank Books under standard terms (i.e., nothing requiring an upcharge or a deposit to order).  These reviews will be my first special series of Thursday posts and will happen as I finish the books.

Since this is my first regular Friday post, here's the news from the children's publishing industry that found its way to me this week.  Feel free to discuss it in the comments, along with whatever else may interest you.

--Author Walter Dean Myers was named the third National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.

--Author and illustrator Simms Taback passed away at age 79 on December 25th.  Pictured above is his Caldecott Medal-winning Joseph Had a Little Overcoat.

--Six new production photos from the upcoming film version of The Hunger Games were released.

--Moira Young's Blood Red Road was named the winner of the children's book category of the Costa Book Awards, a prize for writers based in the UK and Ireland.

--Barnes and Noble put Sterling Publishing, which counts children's books as one of its specialties, up for sale.

Links via Shelf Awareness.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Love and Leftovers

High school is hard enough without your mom dragging you across the country after splitting up with your dad.  Even that wouldn't be so strange if it weren't for your dad's new boyfriend.  And that throws a whole new light on the fact that your boyfriend never makes a move...

Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay is a debut novel in verse.

When Marcie's dad announces he's gay, her mother packs them up and moves from their home in Idaho to the family vacation house in New Hampshire.  Marcie leaves behind her best friends, a group of people who don't fit in with any of the cliques.  Soon she meets a new group, including a guy who throws her chaste relationship with boyfriend Linus into doubt.  Marcie's emotions through various triumphs and betrayals are depicted through her poetry journal, giving us a raw insight into her inner life.  Her hurts feel as unjust to us as to her.  Even when she causes pain in others, we feel are so in tune with her that we long to explain why she should be forgiven.  Her butterflies of young love are expressed just as vividly, making this a delightful roller coaster of a read.  The bonus of dealing with LGBT parents is welcome to the genre.

Love and Leftovers is published by Katherine Tegen Books and retails for $17.99 (hardcover).  I got my Advance Readers Copy from the publisher (although this review was not solicited or otherwise compensated).  You can get yours at Left Bank Books today!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Along a Long Road

There's much to see on a bicycle trip, especially when the road is long.

Along a Long Road by Frank Viva is one of The New York Times Best Illustrated Childrens' Books of 2011.

The bold graphics are the attraction in this whimsical book.  The five-color design features black, white, red and blue surrounding a glossy goldenrod-hued road that winds from one page to the next.  We follow the featured cyclist from countryside to urban environments pages that would form one continuous illustration if laid end-to-end.  The writing is simple, merely punctuating the scenarios.  The retro style and palette makes this a perfect picture book for fans of vintage graphic design.

Along a Long Road is published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and retails for $16.99 (hardcover).  I bought my copy with my very own money.  You can get yours at Left Bank Books today!