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    More Graphic Novels: Have They Taken Us by Surprise?

    By Stan Steiner
     | May 15, 2017

    Graphic novels tend to be more engaging and fast-paced while facilitating essential visual literacy skills, making them well-suited for younger audiences. More educators are embracing graphic novels as a way to hook reluctant readers who may not be interested in traditional texts. This list includes some of the most vibrant new primary-level graphic novels for readers of all ages, abilities, and interests.

    Ages 4–8

    The Amazing Crafty Cat (Crafty Cat #1). Charise Mericle Harper. 2017. First Second/Roaring Brook.

    The Amazing Crafty CatYoung Birdie’s positive energy, love of crafting, and strong imagination come together in her creation of the Amazing Crafty Cat—her superhero counterpart who can fix any problem. Crafty Cat’s powers are tested when disaster strikes; Birdie trips on the way to school, dropping and destroying her perfect birthday cupcakes. Is Birdie’s birthday celebration ruined, or will Crafty Cat come to the rescue? Together, Birdie and Craft Cat show readers how to handle bullies, embarrassing moments, and uncomfortable situations with a positive mindset.


    Hotel Strange 4The Ghosts in the Clouds
    (Hotel Strange #4). Katherine Ferrier & Florian Ferrier. Ill. Katherine Ferrier. 2017. Graphic Universe/Lerner.

    At Hotel Strange all occupants are doing their part to get things ready for winter. Their planning comes to a halt when grumpy ghosts arrive to capture Mr. Snarf, a new arrival at the hotel. After a brief encounter with the ghost patrol, the people at Hotel Strange learn that Mr. Snarf is wanted for crimes in his homeland, the Kingdom of Ghosts. A group of hotel guests believe Mr. Snarf has been unjustly accused and decide to launch a rescue mission by way of air balloon. The Kingdom of Ghosts is full of silly rules, and the rescue crew is thrown in jail for picnicking. An exercise in wit leads to their eventual freedom and a surprise realization for all inhabitants of the kingdom.

    My Kite is StuckMy Kite Is Stuck! and Other Stories (Duck, Duck, Porcupine). Salina Yoon. 2017. Bloomsbury.

    Loud and bossy Big Duck, quiet and smart Little Duck, and friendly and kind Porcupine are best friends, despite their personality differences. As they play together, they use their collective problem-solving skills and humor to solve challenges like how to free a kite from a tree, how to make new friends, and how to build the best lemonade stand.


    Word playWordplay
    (Toon into Reading). Ivan Brunetti. 2017. Toon.

    After learning about compound words in class, Annemarie starts to see them everywhere. One day her obsession with discovering compound words goes too far at dinner, and Dad sends Annemarie to her bedroom, where she finds even more. Brunetti’s engaging and humorous approach to learning compound words inspires readers to try their own hands at wordplay.

    Ages 9–11

    The-Big-Bad-FoxThe Big Bad Fox. Benjamin Renner. 2017. First Second/Roaring Brook.

    Fox and Wolf are determined to get into the hen house to steal some tasty eggs. When Fox manages to sneak past the lazy guard dog and steal three eggs, they decide to raise the chicks until fully grown to provide them with a bigger, more satisfying meal. The plan goes awry when the chicks hatch and call Fox “Mommy.” The unexpected twists and turns that follow as Fox stumbles through parenthood are sure to have readers laughing out loud.

    HiloThe Great Big Boom (Hilo #3). Judd Winick. 2017. Random House.

    Hilo, a robot from another dimension, continues to have adventures with his two best friends, D.J. and Gina, in this latest book of this funny, gripping, and action-packed series. Hilo is still able to fly between planets, but suffers from a mysterious memory loss that is linked to his strange appearance on Earth. The army has picked up on Hilo’s superpowers and throws him and D.J. in jail. When Hilo starts tinkering with the prison security devices, readers are transported into Hilo’s flashbacks. Readers are taken on one rollicking intergalactic adventure after another with the dynamic trio

    Making ScentsMaking Scents. Arthur Yorinks. Ill. Braden Lamb & Shelli Paroline. 2017. First Second/Roaring Brook.

    Yorinks spins the dog world on its nose in this heartwarming tale about Mickey, a boy raised in a family of bloodhounds by his dog-loving parents. His life is perfect until a tragic accident occurs, and he is sent to live with an aunt and uncle who do not like kids or dogs. In the end, however, Mickey’s dog-like instincts help him win his relatives’ love.


    Star ScoutsStar Scouts
    (Star Scouts #1). Mike Lawrence. 2017. First Second/Roaring Brook.

    This uproarious adventure stars two Star Scouts, one on earth and the other in space. As the new girl in town, Avani Patel’s father enrolls her in Flower Scouts to make friends. Avani dislikes the troop; she wants to have adventures, but all the other scouts just like to gossip. Mabel, a Star Scout in space, must identify an alien from Earth to earn a collection badge. Mabel abducts Avani, and they become fast friends through their shared knack for adventure. Life gets exciting for both Avani and Mabel when they compete against a team of bullies for the most badges at Camp Andromeda.  

    Ages 12–14

    Pigs-Might-FlyPigs Might Fly (Pigs Might Fly #1). Nick Abadzis. Ill. Jerel Dye. 2017. First Second/Roaring Brook.

    Pigdom Plains is the backdrop to this fantastical tale starring Lily Leanchops, who must use her scientific prowess to save all of pigkind. Most hogfolk in Pigdom Plains believe that if pigs were meant to fly, they would have been born with wings. Lily Leanchops, the daughter of a renowned inventor, is determined to prove them wrong and sets out to build an aircraft. Pigs Might Fly is a classic story of good versus evil, complicated by father–daughter love, magic, and politics.  

    Volcano TrashVolcano Trash. Ben Sears. 2017. Koyama.

    This futuristic story follows Volcano Trash and his sidekick robot Hank, a pair of criminals with good intentions. When Volcano Trash and Hank take the rap for a string of break-ins, they are caught by the corrupt police force and put in jail. Hank decides to take the blame so that Volcano Trash can go. Volcano Trash, however, is lost without his partner. In a swashbuckling adventure, he carries out a risky and clever plan to liberate Hank.

    Ages 15+

    Another-CastleAnother Castle (Grimoire #1). Andrew Wheeler. Ill. Paulina Ganucheau. 2017. Oni.

    The story begins when Princess Misty of Beldora is captured by Lord Badlug, the feared, murderous ruler of a neighboring kingdom. Lord Badlug’s plan is to marry Princess Misty and lead Beldora into ruin and chaos. Chivalry, wit, and determination take Princess Misty on a death-defying path to heroism. Along the way, she befriends an assortment of characters with special powers, who help and challenge her mission.


    Colonial ComicsColonial Comics: New England: 1750-1775.
    Jason Rodriguez (Ed.). 2017. Fulcrum.

    Prefaced with factual background information, this story focuses on lesser-known figures and events from an important period in American history. Readers are introduced to such characters as Benjamin Franklin’s older brother James, Phyllis Wheatley, Molly Ockett, Thomas Hutchinson, and Samson Occom. They also get new perspectives on such events as the Stamp Act, the Boston Tea Party, and Paul Revere’s ride. The story is equal parts educational and entertaining.

    YvainYvain: The Knight of the Lion. M. T. Anderson. Ill. Andrea Offermann. 2017. Candlewick.

    Yvain, well trained in King Arthur’s Court, finds more adventure than he bargained for when an unexpected confrontation puts him in direct combat with Sir Esclado, duke of a neighboring castle. Yvain is trapped inside the castle and learns Sir Esclado has died from the wounds he inflicted. As Yvain watches the funeral from his cell window, he realizes he is in love with Sir Esclado’s wife, Lady Laudine. For Yvain to win her heart, he must prove his bravery and defend her land.

    Stan Steiner teaches children’s/young adult literature at Boise State University. He has had a long relationship with bringing awareness to multicultural literature through his teaching and publications. Interacting with kids keeps him abreast of popular reads as is the case with graphic novels.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.
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    Graphic Novels: The Bridge Between Visual and Print Media

    By Stan Steiner
     | May 08, 2017

    When words are not enough, graphics allow writers to reach new heights of creativity, experimentation, and emotion. While varying in form, the recently-published books on this list all use imagery to explore rich historical, biographical, and cultural themes and impart ageless life lessons.   


    Ages 48

    Bird & Squirrel on Fire (Bird & Squirrel #4). James Burks. 2017. Graphix/Scholastic.

    Bird & Squirrel on FireBird and Squirrel are unlikely best friends. Squirrel anxiously longs for the comfort of his home, never wanting to venture far. Bird, on the other hand, craves adventure and has no fear. One day, Squirrel returns from a day of exploring to find his home engulfed in flames. Squirrel is frantic; all he can think about are his ruined possessions. Through this disaster, Squirrel ultimately learns the value of friendships, and the true meaning of "home." 


    Dog Man Unleashed
    (Dog Man #2). Dav Pilkey. 2017. Graphix/Scholastic.

    Dog Man UnleashedDav Pilkey, creator of Captain Underpants, is back with this second installment of Dog Man. This series tells the story of an inseparable cop and police dog: the best crime fighters in the city. One day, a huge explosion in the police station leaves the cop with a serious head injury, and the dog with a disfigured body. A surgeon decides to save their lives by attaching the dog’s head to the police officer’s body, thus the birth of Dog Man. Pilkey’s child-friendly humor flourishes in this new crime stoppers series.


    A Perfect View (Cici: A Fairy Tale
    #3). Cori Doerrfeld. Ill. Tyler Page & Cori Doerrfeld. 2017. Graphic Universe/Lerner.

    CiciCici is a fairy who sees the world differently. Her Grandma tries to warn her that a fairy who does not know her own powers is likely to encounter mischief and unexplained happenings. When Cici decides to take her new friend Kendra on her first camping trip, a near-disaster teaches Cici that cooperation and friendship are important in both the fairy world and the real world.


    Something’s Fishy
    (Giggle & Learn). Kevin McCloskey. 2017. Toon.

    Something's FishyThe story opens with a "fishy" alphabet, each letter corresponding to an exotic fish and a description of its unique characteristics. Readers will learn surprising facts, for example, not all fish have fins and scales. Something's Fishy concludes with the history of the goldfish, lending insight into this common household pet.


    Ages 911

    Bad Kitty Takes the Test (Bad Kitty). Nick Bruel. 2017. Neal Porter/Roaring Book.

    Bad Kitty Takes a TestIn this satirical episode, Kitty panics when the Society of Cat Aptitude, noting her history of bad behavior, requires her to take an aptitude test that will determine her feline status. As she experiences the pressures of test-taking, Kitty learns a lot about herself, and realizes that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. Kitty’s experience with testing may change readers’ mentality toward their next exam.


    Flying Machines: How the Wright Brothers Soared
    (Science Comics). Alison Wilgus. Ill. Molly Brooks. 2017.

    wright brothersLooking for great STEM literature? In How the Wright Brothers Soared, Katharine Wright narrates the scientific journey that lead to modern aviation. In real life, Katharine played an important role in her brothers’ success. The book includes brief biographies on key players in the aviation world, along with a glossary of aeronautical terminology.



    Real Friends: A True Story About Cool Kids and Crybabies
    . Shannon Hale. 2017. First Second/Roaring Brook.

    Real FriendsWhile intended for young people, this memoir will resonate with anyone who has ever felt like an outcast. Real Friends follows fifth-grader Shannon Hale as she struggles to make friends, keep friends, hold onto her popularity, get along with her family, and overcome feelings of anxiety and insecurity. Through these painful growing pains, Hale learns to recognize and cherish the elements of real friendship.


    Ages 1214

    News Prints (News Print #1). Ru Xu. 2017. Graphix/Scholastic.

    News PrintsSet in the 1920s with futuristic notions of robots, time travel, and other civilizations, News Prints is filled with page-turning, action-packed mystery. The book stars spunky Lavender Blue, a female orphan disguised as a newsboy, who sells papers to make money during a costly war. Blue’s heroic actions lead her to realize the importance of being true to oneself and to others.




    One Weirdest Weekend
    (Pix #1). Gregg Schigiel. 2017. Image Comics.

    One Weirdest WeekendIn her first original graphic novel, Pix the “Superteen” is a hero who wears a cape, rescues people and pets, and prevents imminent disasters—all while avoiding the pitfalls of her own youthful naiveté. Between rescue operations, Pix battles the trials of teenagehood—bad dates, even worse cell service, and an overprotective mom.


    Ages 15+

    MWD: Hell Is Coming Home. Brian David Johnson & Jan Egleson. Ill. Laila Milevski & Karl Stevens. 2017. Candlewick.

    MWD: Hell is Coming HomeGeared towards older readers, MWD: Hell Is Coming Home tells the story of Liz Mastrangelo, a former soldier in the Iraq War who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Part of the story is told through flashbacks: her memories of bonding with a military working dog, juxtaposed by the sobering realities of a war zone. The rest of the story follows her struggle to reenter into relationships and society as she copes with mood swings and other symptoms associated with PTSD.


    Spill Zone
    (Spill Zone #1). Scott Westerfeld. Ill. Alex Puvilland. 2017. First Second/Roaring Brook.

    Spill ZoneFans of Scott Westerfeld’s sci-fi novels will enjoy this suspenseful new series. The Spill Zone is a futuristic toxic site that has eviscerated Poughkeepsie, New York. Addie and her younger sister, Lexa, orphaned after their parents were killed, are two of the remaining survivors living near the zone. Addie keeps them alive by traveling at night into the Spill Zone, where she takes eerie photographs that she can sell to rich art collectors. Addie’s bravery and survival skills are put to the test when she receives a million-dollar offer to venture deeper into the lethal territory than ever before.


    Wires and Nerve
    (The Lunar Chronicles). Marissa Meyer. Ill. Doug Holgate. 2017. Feiwel and Friends.

    Wires and NerveLinh Cinder, Queen of Luna, and Kai, the Emperor of Earth, are working to unite their two worlds. Their dream is met with skepticism, especially from the wolf-hybrid soldiers trained under the evil, late Queen of Luna, who have been wreaking havoc and destruction all over Earth. So far, they are no match for Iko, an android working for Cinder. Action unfolds as each of the nine heroes from the Lunar Chronicles are reintroduced in this futuristic adventure series.


    Stan Steiner
    teaches Children’s/Young Adult Literature at Boise State University, Boise, Idaho. He has had a long relationship with bringing awareness to multicultural literature through his teaching and publications. Interacting with kids keeps him abreast of popular reads as is the case with graphic novels.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.


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    Series and Sequels

    BY NANCY BRASHEAR AND CAROLYN ANGUS
     | May 01, 2017

    Series are perennial favorites with readers of all ages. This column features first books in new series as well as stand-alone sequels. We have included some early chapter books for younger readers and more complex plots in a variety of genres for older readers.

    Ages 4–8

    Agnes and ClarabelleAgnes and Clarabelle (Agnes and Clarabelle #1). Adele Griffin & Courtney Sheinmel. Ill. Sara Palacios. 2017. Bloomsbury.
    Agnes Pig and Clarabelle Chicken are best friends. In four short episodic chapters, organized around the seasons of the year, Agnes and Clarabelle enjoy doing things together and help each other face fears and accept challenges. Appropriate text features (such as breath-sized lines of text and controlled-yet-interesting vocabulary) and lively illustrations, rendered in colored pencil and watercolor washes and digitally enhanced, support newly independent readers. After meeting these bosom buddies in these engaging stories, young children will be primed for reading Agnes and Clarabelle Celebrate! (2017), published simultaneously, in which the friends celebrate four holidays together.
    —NB

    Charlie and MouseCharlie & Mouse (Charlie & Mouse #1). Laurel Snyder. Ill. Emily Hughes. 2017. Chronicle.
    Readers meet young siblings, Charlie and Mouse, over four short chapters in this new easy reader series. In “Lumps,” Charlie wakes up and, eager to start the day’s activities, pokes at the lump beside him in bed to wake up his younger brother. Together they make their way down the hall to awaken two more lumps, their mom and dad. In “Party,” the celebration they plan ends up being “the best party ever” for the children of the neighborhood. In “Rocks,” their money-making project, selling rocks, is a success but in an unexpected way. In “Bedtime Banana,” the boys postpone bedtime by asking for a story, a song, and bananas before finally going to sleep planning to ask for an even tastier bedtime snack the next night. Colorful illustrations complement the text, showing the brothers sharing their mini-adventures throughout the day.
    —CA

    Fizz and the Police Dog TryoutsFizz and the Police Dog Tryouts (Fizz Police Dog Adventures #1). Lesley Gibbes. Ill. Stephan Michael King. 2017. Kane Miller.
    Fizz is “a small cute ball of white, fizzy, fuzzy fur,” as well as a brave, clever, superfast Bolognese who wants to be a police dog, not a champion show dog. At the Police Dog Tryouts, Fizz passes the Bark Test and the Scare Test, but it is Amadeus the Awesome, “the biggest, nastiest dog Fizz had ever met,” who brings the burglar down in the Chase-and-Catch Test. Fizz's dreams of being Sunnyvale’s next City Police Dog are over, but with his lovable look, he is perfect for the Undercover Dog Division. After reading Fizz and the Police Dog Tryouts, newly independent readers will be eager to read the three other simultaneously-published Fizz Police Dog adventures.
    —CA

    Sam the Man Sam the Man & the Rutabaga Plan (Sam the Man #2). Frances O’Roark Dowell. Ill. Amy June Bates. 2017. Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.
    Second-grader “Sam the Man,” who doesn’t like vegetables, is given a rutabaga for a class science project. He soon grows fond of “Rudy,” draws a smiley face on the odd-looking vegetable, and carries it around in his backpack in a box of worm dirt. Sam bargains with his neighbor, Mrs. Kerner, for permission to make a compost pile at her house, and he invites his classmates to contribute their mushy vegetables to it at the end of the project. When Sam finally pulls Rudy out of his backpack to add to the compost, however, he discovers that the rugged rutabaga is not rotting—and has a surprise for all of them. Pencil sketches throughout the book add to the fun. Readers who missed Sam’s first adventure will enjoy reading Sam the Man and the Chicken Plan (2016).
    —NB

    Ages 9–11

    Audacity Jones Steals the ShowAudacity Jones Steals the Show (Audacity Jones #2). Kirby Larson. 2017. Scholastic.
    It is the early 1900s, and eleven-year-old orphan Audacity "Audie" Jones from Miss Maisie’s School for Wayward Girls is again sleuthing, this time with Pinkerton Detective Cypher in New York City at the Hippodrome Theater. Audie, her friend Bimmy, Detective Cypher, and Theodora (the scientist who created Houdini’s upcoming best illusion ever, vanishing an elephant in front of a live audience) go undercover as a juggling act, The Pomegrantos. With the help of Audie’s clever cat, Min, they foil a rapscallion’s scheme to ruin Houdini. An author’s note discusses historical authenticities and liberties in writing this historical thriller. Readers who missed the first book, Audacity Jones to the Rescue (2016), will want to read it while waiting for the next book in the series. 
    —NB

    Dragon CaptivesDragon Captives (The Unwanteds Quest #1). Lisa McMann. 2017. Aladdin/Simon & Schuster.
    This spin-off from the Unwanteds series begins ten years later with twelve-year-old twins Fifer and Thisbe Stowe (along with their friend Seth) defying their older brother, Alex, head mage of Artimé, to answer the plea of ice blue dragon Hux for help to free his siblings. Enslaved by the Revinir, an evil ruler, the dragons are rapidly outgrowing their wings, soon to no longer able to fly. Useless to their captor, they will be killed. The twins, with their uncontrollable, untrained magical abilities, must somehow reach the dragons, create larger dragon wings for them, and rescue them from captivity. Just when their dangerous quest turns out to have possibly fatal consequences, what happens sets readers up for the next book in the series.
    —NB

    Ages 12–14

    Carmer and GritCarmer and Grit (The Wingsnatchers #1). Sarah Jean Horwitz. 2017. Algonquin.
    A chance meeting between thirteen-year-old orphaned Felix Cassius Tiberious Carmer III, a magician’s apprentice to Antoine the Amazifier, and Grettifrida Lonewing, a teeny one-winged faerie princess, leads to an odd alliance. Grit agrees to use her real magic to help Carmer improve his mechanical inventions used in the Amazifier’s illusions. The act desperately needs improvement if the magician is to win first prize at the Seminal Symposium of Magickal Arts in the city of Skemantis. In exchange, Carmer will help Grit uncover the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Seelie faeries from the faerie kingdom in Skemantis’ public park, Oldtown Arboretum. Carmer and Grit face off against a magician/mad scientist who has created automatons (including Wingsnatchers and Autocats) that terrify fairies and people on the streets of Skemantis and a Hyperiopower machine that uses fae magic to generate electric energy. The worlds of faeries, magicians, and steampunk technology come together in this fast-paced, action-packed fantasy.
    —CA

    Last Day on MarsLast Day on Mars (Chronicles of the Dark Star #1). Kevin Emerson. 2017. Walden Pond/HarperCollins.
    It is the year 2213. The sun is expanding “into a red giant, swallowing Earth and the inner planets of the solar system, before dying down to a white dwarf” billions of years before expected. Now almost all the humans who abandoned Earth and colonized Mars are on giant space ships headed toward remote planet Aaru-5. The last ship to leave Mars before it becomes uninhabitable is scheduled to leave in twenty-four hours. Thirteen-year-olds Liam and Phoebe are in this last group because their parents are finishing a project that will be needed for the successful colonization of Aaru-5. The teens find themselves making life-and-death decisions (including discovering and outsmarting aliens and surviving explosions and avalanches) with a fearless abandon that will leave science fiction fans impatiently waiting for the continuation of the Chronicles of the Dark Star.
    —CA

    Ages 15+

    Agent of ChaosAgent of Chaos (The X Files Origins #1). Kami Garcia. 2017. Imprint/Macmillan.
    In this thriller set in 1979, readers learn how seventeen-year-old Fox Mulder became interested in investigation of the paranormal. His mother, still distraught over the unsolved disappearance of his younger sister five years earlier, sends him to spend his senior year with his emotionally-detached father in Washington, D.C. There he meets Gimble, a Dungeons & Dragons player, whose father is a retired military conspiracy theorist. After Mulder’s friend Phoebe comes to visit, the three teens work together on solving the mystery of another young missing girl and find themselves on the trail of a serial killer. Mulder’s newly-honed profiling skills bring him to the attention of the FBI, which pegs him as a prospective agent. X-File fans will also want to read Jonathan Maberry’s The Devil’s Advocate (2017), which introduces fifteen-year-old Dana Scully, to find out how she also became a FBI recruit.
    NB 

    Revenge of the Evil LibrarianRevenge of the Evil Librarian (Evil Librarian #2). Michelle Knudsen. 2017. Candlewick.
    Seventeen-year-old Cynthia and her boyfriend, Ryan, who fought alongside her to save their school from the demon librarian, Mr. Gabriel, in The Evil Librarian (2016), are spending the summer at musical theater camp. Cyn has not told Ryan about the agreement she made with the demoness who helped them escape from hell. Diabolic action ramps up as she discovers that Mr. Gabriel may not be dead after all and might be looking for revenge. Cyn’s realistic, slightly snarky, narration and non-stop action will carry readers through a roller-coaster storyline full of humor and horror. And then there is that agreement between Cyn and the demoness to pull readers into the next book.
    —NB

    Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English at Azusa Pacific University, in Azusa, California. Carolyn Angus is former Director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.
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    Poetry That Begs to Be Spoken

    By Linda D. Parsons and Lisa T. Patrick
     | Apr 24, 2017

    Revered poet and artist Ashley Bryan was awarded a 2017 Newbery Honor, a Coretta Scott King Author Honor, and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor for his book in verse Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan. The celebrated author/illustrator once said, “If you don’t hear a poem spoken, it’s like never hearing a song sung.” The books included in this review are certainly poems that beg to be spoken.

    Ages 4–8

    A Song About Myself. John Keats. Ill. Chris Raschka. 2017. Candlewick.

    song-about-myselfCaldecott Medal and Honor winner Chris Raschka brings a playful poem by John Keats to life with his vibrant watercolor paintings. While visiting Scotland at the age of 22, Keats wrote “A Song About Myself” in a letter to his younger sister. In an illustrator’s note, Raschka shares that this delightful poem reveals Keats to be “a loving brother, who wanted to make his sister laugh with a funny little rhyme.”
    —LDP  


    Steppin’ Out:
    Jaunty Rhymes for Playful Times. Lin Oliver. Ill. Tomie dePaola. 2017. Nancy Paulsen/Penguin.

    steppin-outToddlers can find the mundane amazing and the ordinary an adventure, and Lin Oliver conveys their sense of wonder in this collection of poems. These 19 rhyming poems employ different rhythms sure to hold the attention of little ones and the adults who read to them. The “day” (and book) begins with the couplet “When I open my front door, / There’s a whole world to explore” and ends with the lines “Every day is full of fun, / And tomorrow is another one.” Throughout the day, young children go to the library, the car wash, the mall, and the beach. They experience pancakes with dad, a family barbecue, a first haircut, and unexpected treasures on a walk. Tomie dePaola’s signature style is evident in the faces of the multicultural cast of children in the illustrations.
    —LTP

    Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market. Michelle Schaub. Ill. Amy Huntington. 2017. Charlesbridge.

    fresh-picked-poetryIn Fresh-Picked Poetry, two friends and their rambunctious canine companions spend a day at an urban farmers’ market. The delights of the market, and the poems that describe them, include not only fresh produce but also lemonade, honey, free-range eggs, and baked goods as well as musicians, a knife sharpener, and face painter. The illustrations extend the poems with additional story lines and feature a multicultural cast of farmers and shoppers. “Wild Dreams in Two Voices” offers an excellent opportunity to involve young readers in spoken poetry. The book ends with an author’s note, “Fresh Picked Reasons to Spend a Day at the Market,” enumerating the benefits of fresh, local produce.
    —LTP

    Round. Joyce Sidman. Ill. Taeeun Yoo. 2017. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    round_w140A young child shares her love of round things by taking the reader on a tour of all that is round in the natural world. Newbery Honor-winning poet Joyce Sidman explains why so many things in nature are round. Round is cozy and sturdy; it spreads out and rolls; it is balanced and beautiful. Yoo’s mixed media illustrations are made with printed texture, lending a whimsical quality to the book.
    —LDP

    Thunder Underground. Jane Yolen. Ill. Josée Masse. 2017. WordSong/Highlights.

    thunder-undergroundThe prolific Jane Yolen celebrates the wonders secreted underground and the “beating heart of the earth” in this collection of poems that are meant to be savored. The first poem explores a house basement; others explore the sounds corn makes as it grows, the sounds animals and insects contribute, geologic forms such as lava and tectonic plates, and man-made wonders such as subways and sewers and lost cities. Masse’s illustrations complement the poems with a pair of young children exploring underground. Yolen begins the book with “UNDER—ground” and ends with “UNDER—stood” to effectively bringing readers full circle in a quest to learn more about what exists unseen beneath our feet. The book closes with “Notes on the Poems: Both Scientific and Personal.”
    —LTP

    Ages 9–11

    Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics. Margarita Engle. Ill. Rafael López. 2017. Henry Holt.

    bravoThe author and the illustrator of the multiaward-winning Drum Dream Girl (2015) are back with a stunning tribute to “Amazing Hispanics.” Engle states these biographical poems are “about a variety of amazing people who lived in geographic regions now included in the modern United States.” Organized chronologically, the poems celebrate those who are known, little known, and unknown from Juan DeMiralles (1713–1780) to Thomás Rivera (1935–1984): healers, activists, scientists, pilots, and chefs. López makes full use of a palette rich in yellows, reds, and oranges to create expressive, full-page portraits of each featured person. Alongside each poem, he provides a smaller illustration symbolizing the person’s area of achievement. Engle provides brief but highly informative notes about each person’s life as back matter. A Spanish-language edition, ¡Bravo! Poemas sobre hispanos extraordinarios (2017), is also available.
    —LTP

    Feel the Beat: Dance Poems That Zing From Salsa to Swing. Marilyn Singer. Ill. Kristi Valiant. 2017. Dial/Penguin.

    feel-the-beatThis new offering by Marilyn Singer definitely zings! Our journey through the world of dance begins with complementary poems “All Over the World, Dancing Is Joy” and “Joy Is Dancing All Over the World.” Many of the poems encourage young readers to join in as they see children in the poems overcome self-consciousness and feet that “feel like hooves” to join family and community members to “glow—star of the show.” The poems mimic the rhythms of dances as diverse as hip-hop, square dance, the hora, and the two-step, while the illustrations reflect the diversity of these dances and the people who enjoy them. Valiant’s bold palette is particularly stunning in her illustration for the Bhangra. It is visually obvious that characters in the poems “feel the beat.” A CD (which was not available for review) accompanies the book, and a “Notes About the Dances” is included.
    —LTP

    Ages 12–14

    Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets. Kwame Alexander (with Chris Colderley & Marjory Wentworth). Ill. Ekua Holmes. 2017. Candlewick.

    out-of-wonderThe title of this “lyrical homage to 20 famed poets” was inspired by Lucille Clifton’s quote, “Poetry comes out of wonder, not out of knowing.” The featured poets range from Robert Frost and Gwendolyn Brooks to Okot p’Bitek and Rumi. In “Part I: Got Style,” the authors recreate poems in the styles of the featured poets. “Part II: In Your Shoes” shows the poets’ influences on the authors’ own writings. In “Part III: Thank You,” the authors speak back to those whose work has spoken to them in a “highly personal way.” The book ends with highly readable notes about each famous poet. Ekua Holmes, award-winning illustrator of Carole Boston Weatherford’s Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement (2015), creates mixed media art that is as evocative as the poems they complement and that demand we look as deeply into them as we do the poems.
    —LTP

    One Last Word: Wisdom From the Harlem Renaissance. Nikki Grimes. 2017. Bloomsbury.

    one-last-wordNikki Grimes’s unique poetry collection is inspired by the poets of the Harlem Renaissance. In the preface to her book, Grimes shares that she wishes to celebrate these poets, add her voice to theirs, and introduce their work to a new generation of readers. Using the Golden Shovel poetic form (explained in an introductory “Poetry Form” note), Grimes writes an original poem in response to poems from master poets such as Langston Hughes and Georgia Douglas Johnson. The book is organized in poetic pairs: a poem from a Harlem Renaissance writer and Grimes’s Golden Shovel poem created with words seeded with a line or stanza of the poem, and sometimes even from the entire poem—quite a creative feat! Background information on the Harlem Renaissance helps situate the poems in their historical context. The powerful poems are paired with artwork by some of today’s most inspiring African American illustrators. Short biographies of the poets and artists are included at the end of the book along with sources and an index.
    —LDP

    Ages 15+

    Mrs. Nelson's Class. Marilyn Nelson (Ed.). 2017. World Enough Writers.

    mrs-nelsons-classIn 1954, the same year that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public school segregation was unconstitutional in the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, Marilyn Nelson’s mother became the teacher of a second-grade class of 20 white children near Salina, Kansas. The idea for the book was inspired by a class photo of Johnnie Mitchell Nelson, a young African American teacher, and her students. Marilyn Nelson (winner of the 2017 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children) recruited other poets, all of whom are white, to choose a child from the photograph and then write persona poems from their perspective. Marilyn Nelson wrote the poems that represent her mother’s voice. An “About the Authors” section is included at the end of book.
    —LDP

    For All Ages

    Let's Clap, Jump, Sing, & Shout; Dance, Spin, & Turn It Out! Games, Songs, & Stories From an African American Childhood. Patricia McKissack. Ill. Brian Pinkney. 2017. Schwartz & Wade/Random House.

    lets-clap-jump-sing-and-shoutNewbery Honor winner Patricia McKissack has collected her favorite games, songs, poetry, and stories for a new generation of children. Drawing on her own experiences growing up in the American South, McKissack hopes readers will have fun exploring the games she played with her childhood friends. Brian Pinkney, winner of two Caldecott Honors, uses his signature watercolor and ink style to create playful illustrations, adding color and movement throughout the book. In a note from the illustrator, Pinkney shares that creating the art “was pure joy.” Extensive source notes and a bibliography are included.
    —LDP

    For Teachers and Librarians

    Here We Go: A Poetry Friday Power Book. Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong. 2017. Pomelo.

    here-we-goThe creators of The Poetry Friday Anthology series have published a new resource for readers interested in discovering the power of poetry. Vardell and Wong collaborated to design an interactive model for reading, writing, thinking about, and responding to poetry. The book is organized into “PowerPack” groups, each of which has an activity, anchor poem, response poem, mentor poem, and a Power2You writing prompt. Many helpful resources are included at the end of the book. Filled with poems by a variety of award-winning poets, this engaging resource invites readers to “power up” and explore the world of poetry.
    —LDP

     

    Nikki Grimes will be at the ILA 2017 Conference & Exhibits as part of the Young Adult Putting Books to Work workshop, which takes place Monday, July 17, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., and the Young Adult Meetup on Saturday, July 15, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Kwame Alexander will  be at the ILA 2017 Conference & Exhibits as part of the Children’s Choices session “Characters With Character: Using the 2017 Children's Choices Award Winning Reading.”

     

    Linda T. Parsons is an Associate Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning at The Ohio State University, Marion, where she specializes in middle childhood literacy and young adult literature. Lisa D. Patrick is a Literacy Coach Trainer at The Ohio State University’s Literacy Collaborative where she specializes in children’s literature and early literacy.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

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    The Best of Friends

    By Jennifer W. Shettel
     | Apr 17, 2017

    Having friends, whether one best buddy or a group, is important no matter how old you are. Navigating these critical relationships can be challenging at times, especially for young people. The recently published books reviewed in this week’s column explore making and keeping friends as well as highlighting the power of those relationships.

    Ages 4–8

    Muddle & Mo. Nikki Slade Robinson. 2017. Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    muddle-mo-blueMuddle, a duck, and Mo, a goat, are best friends. The only problem is that Muddle thinks Mo is a duck and is confused by his friend’s un-duck-like characteristics. Muddle finally realizes Mo is, indeed, a goat. After a bit of confusion about whether he is possibly a goat too, Muddle understands they can still be best friends even though they are different. Expressive mixed-media illustrations featuring Muddle and Mo on textured blue paper and minimal text consisting of the dialogue between the two animals make this a fun story with a gentle lesson on identity and friendship.

    Pen Pals. Alexandra Pichard. 2017. Aladdin/Simon & Schuster.

    pen-palsPen pals Oscar the ant and Bill the octopus love writing and receiving letters and small gifts from each other as they participate in a school project. Despite their differences, they find they have much in common as they correspond with each other by mail. The text consists solely of the letters written by Oscar and Bill. Pichard’s simple digital illustrations—done entirely in red, yellow, blue, and black, and combined with collage—follow the pen pal’s exchange of letters throughout the year. Readers will enjoy identifying the small changes that occur in the repeated scenes of the two friends sitting at their desks penning letters. The depictions of the posting of letters by Oscar and Bill and their delivery by mail carriers, a mouse and a penguin, add to the fun of this story that celebrates the pleasure of sending and receiving handwritten letters through the mail.

    Ages 9–11

    Stef Soto, Taco Queen. Jennifer Torres. 2017. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    stef-sotoEstefania “Stef” Soto has a love/hate relationship with her family’s taco truck business. On the one hand, she is proud of her father for the hard work he has put into starting his own business; on the other hand, Stef is reminded every day by her seventh-grade peers that she smells like tacos and is even nicknamed “The Taco Queen” by her former friend Julia. Stef is thinking it might just be time for her father and Tia Perla, the taco truck, to retire. Then Stef finds herself faced with two conflicts: her art class needs to figure out a way to raise money for new supplies to carry them through the school year and the city food-truck vendors find themselves faced with a possible shutdown due to new regulations. She must search deep within herself to figure out how she can help find a solution to both issues. Told with Spanish words and phrases integrated into the text, this is a heartwarming story of friendship, family, and food.

    The Trouble With Friends (The Nora Notebooks #3). Claudia Mills. Ill. Katie Kath. 2017. Alfred A. Knopf/Random House.

    the-trouble-with-friendsFourth-grader Nora Alpers loves ants, science, and writing in her notebook. She does not like to try new things. So, when Coach Joe, her fourth-grade teacher, presents the students with “newness challenge,” Nora is skeptical about participating. And when she begins to suspect that classmate Emma’s newfound interest in becoming her friend means that she is Emma’s challenge, she isn’t sure she wants to be the center of Emma’s project. As the story unfolds in the short chapters of this last book in Mills’ series about budding scientist Nora, Nora discovers that trying new things—and making new friends—can be fun.

    Ages 12–14

    Posted. John David Anderson. 2017. Walden Pond/HarperCollins.

    postedMiddle school is a tricky time for friendships, and finding your “tribe” is an important part of a middle-school student’s identity. This is the case for Frost, Deedee, Wolf, and Bench, four boys who find their group identity challenged when the new girl at school, Rose, sits at their lunch table, causing a shift in their relationship. Anderson’s coming-of-age novel captures the angst of middle school friendships as well as both the hurtful and the healing power of words when a sticky-note war erupts after the principal bans the use of cell phones in the school.

    Velocity. Chris Wooding. 2017. Scholastic.

    velocityGet your engines revved up for this high-speed, futuristic novel that features two best friends and fearless car-racing power team Cassica and Shiara, who are discovered after they win a race in their small hometown. The girls are quickly brought into the world of Maximum Racing star-power, but they are unprepared for the treachery and corrupt world in which they find themselves. With their sights set on winning the Widowmaker race, with its coveted prize of a lifetime free of care and worry as a Celestial, Cassica and Shiara must decide if winning the race is worth dying—or killing—for. Fans of The Hunger Games and NASCAR racing will enjoy this dystopian adventure.

    Ages 15+

    Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting It Done. Andrea Gonzales & Sophie Houser. 2017. HarperCollins.

    girl-codeWhen teens Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser met at the Girls Who Code summer program in 2014, they had no idea they would become friends and create a video game that would rocket them into the world of tech phenoms, changing their lives! Girl Code explores the world of coding as well as the limited role that females play in the world of computer programming. In this nonfiction book, told in alternating voices, Andy and Sophie share their journey as high school students thrown together in a world largely dominated by males. Wanting to do something important, they created a video game called Tampon Run, which demystifies menstruation; the game brought them more opportunities than they could ever have imagined. This inspirational dual memoir of determination and perseverance will appeal to teens interested in coding. Back matter includes a Coding Appendix with a glossary and a few basic tutorials for anyone who wants to give coding a try.

    Goodbye Days. Jeff Zentner. 2017. Crown/Random House.

    goodbye-daysEli, Mars, Blake, and Carver call themselves the Sauce Crew and are the best of friends at the private arts-focused high school they attend. One evening, as Carver is impatiently waiting for the guys to pick him up after work, he sends Mars a text to see where they are and to tell them to hurry up. And that’s when the terrible accident happens that takes all three of his friends’ lives and leaves Carver alone with his grief and guilt, as well as the possibility of facing criminal charges for sending a text, knowing his friend was most likely driving. This story takes place in the days and months immediately following the accident as Carver embarks on a series of “Goodbye Days” with the other boys’ families and Eli’s girlfriend, Jesmyn. Told in present-day action combined with flashbacks, this novel captures the raw consequences of texting while driving in a way that is both real and meaningful.

    Jennifer W. Shettel is an associate professor at Millersville University of PA where she teaches undergraduate and graduate course in literacy for preservice and practicing teachers. Prior to joining the faculty at Millersville, she spent 16 years as an elementary classroom teacher and reading specialist in the public schools.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.


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