Literacy Daily

Book Reviews
    • Student Level
    • ~4 years old (Grade Pre-K)
    • ~5 years old (Grade K)
    • Children's & YA Literature
    • ~6 years old (Grade 1)
    • Teacher Educator
    • Librarian
    • Literacy Education Student
    • Literacy Coach
    • Classroom Teacher
    • Job Functions
    • ~18 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~17 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~16 years old (Grade 11)
    • ~15 years old (Grade 10)
    • ~14 years old (Grade 9)
    • ~13 years old (Grade 8)
    • ~12 years old (Grade 7)
    • ~11 years old (Grade 6)
    • ~10 years old (Grade 5)
    • ~9 years old (Grade 4)
    • ~8 years old (Grade 3)
    • ~7 years old (Grade 2)
    • Book Reviews

    Summer Reading

    By Jennifer W. Shettel and Carolyn Angus
     | Jun 03, 2019

    As the school year ends, it’s time to encourage students to include frequent visits to their local libraries throughout the summer (and perhaps sign up for summer reading programs). In this week’s column, we review some sweet and savory reads with summery themes as well as several informational books that will get readers of all ages involved in new activities.

    Ages 4–8

    Hello Summer! (Hello Seasons!). Shelley Rotner. Holiday House.

    Hello Summer!What do children do in the summer? They go barefoot, drink lemonade, play in the park, go swsimming, and more! Shelley Rotner’s simple but descriptive text and vibrant color photographs present a diverse group of kids doing all kinds of fun things as the days get longer and warmer following spring and then shorter and cooler with the approach of autumn. Hello Summer! completes author–photographer Rotner’s series celebrating the seasons of the year.
    —JS

    Hazy Bloom and the Mystery Next Door (Hazy Bloom #3). Jennifer Hamburg. Ill. Jenn Harney. 2019. Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Macmillan.

    Hazy BloomSummer is finally here, and Hazy Bloom is “for real live” ready for the fun to commence. All her friends, however, have summer camp plans, so Hazy is on her own in making vacation exciting—and her “tomorrow power,” strange visions that foreshadow something that will happen the next day, will play a big part. The problem with this superpower, however, is that sometimes she can’t quite predict how a particular vision will actually play out and, in this case, it leads to hilarious missteps and a mystery involving the empty house next door that’s not quite as scary as Hazy thinks it is.
    —JS

    The Nature Girls. Aki. 2019. Godwin/Henry Holt/Macmillan.

    The Nature Girls“We’re Nature Girls! We must explore. / We pack our bags, we’re out the door. / . . . and off we go!” The 16 adventurous and always-smiling Nature Girls take young readers on a trek around the globe as they explore various biomes, beginning with a journey to the sea where they scuba dive and swim with dolphins and fish. Aki’s vibrant cartoon illustrations invite readers to examine each page closely to spot the various animals that inhabit each biome. Back matter includes a two-page spread “Meet the Biomes” providing a definition of the term biome and brief information about the biomes (aquatic, desert, grassland, tundra, forest) featured in the book.
    —JS

    Sea Glass Summer. Michelle Houts. Ill. Bagram Ibatoulline. Candlewick.

    Sea Glass SummerIn the summer, Thomas enjoys using a magnifying glass that belonged to his grandfather to explore things that wash up on the beach near his grandmother’s island cottage and begins collecting sea glass with her. When Thomas finds a new piece, he has a dream that night about how the glass wound up in the sea long ago. Returning home at the end of the summer, Thomas drops the magnifying glass on the deck of the ferry and throws the broken pieces overboard. Years later, another child finds a piece of sea glass and dreams about a boy named Thomas. Bagram Ibatoulline’s stunning watercolor paintings show the connection between the past and present with the children’s summer activities at the seaside in full color and their dreams in dramatic, gray-toned double spreads.
    —JS

    Sandy Feet! Whose Feet? Footprints at the Shore. Susan Wood. Ill. Steliyana Doneva. Sleeping Bear.

    Sandy Feet!“Wading feet,  / sandpiper hops / water curls and sprays. / Crawling feet, / click-clack crab / scuttles on its way.” On a family outing at the beach, two young children investigate a variety of tracks they find in the sand. Told in brief rhyming text, this is a delightful summer story about their joy in exploring footprints at the shore. An appended two-page spread includes notes about being an “ecology detective” and identifying the animals that made the tracks the children discover. Whimsical illustrations in beachy colors add to the warm tone of this story about a fun summer activity.
    —JS

    Waiting for Chicken Smith. David Mackintosh. 2019. Candlewick.

    Waiting for Chicken SmithThe narrator has just arrived at his family’s cabin and is awaiting the arrival of his friend, Chicken Smith, who spends the summer at the beach with his dad and his dog, Jelly. Ignoring his little sister’s attempts to get him to join her activities, he hangs around Chicken’s vacant cabin and thinks about the adventures they’ll have once he arrives. Realizing that his friend’s cabin looks different this year (readers will notice a Summer Rental sign on the door), he walk down to the beach and, responding to his sister’s “Just hurry up!” cry, follows her up the hill to the lighthouse and sees something he and Chicken have never seen: a whale. David Macintosh’s mixed-media illustrations set the scene for this touching story of a child’s anticipation of renewal of an old friendship and the possibility of making new memories of summer fun with someone else.
    —CA

    Ages 911

    Caterpillar Summer. Gillian McDunn. 2019. Bloomsbury.

    Caterpillar SummerEven though she’s only 11, Cat has always taken charge of her younger brother, Chicken, who has special needs. Their dad died when they were younger, and their mom is a children’s book author who holds down a variety of small teaching jobs to make ends meet. When their summer plans take an unexpected turn, Cat and Chicken find themselves spending three weeks on Gingerbread Island with their maternal grandparents, whom they meet for the first time. Cat and Chicken find island life fun, and they enjoy getting to know their grandparents in this story of family secrets, growing up, and getting along, which ends with Cat and Chicken looking forward to spending the next summer on Gingerbread Island.
    —JS

    Maybe a Mermaid. Josephine Cameron. 2019. Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Macmillan.

    Maybe a MermaidWhen Anthoni and her mom make a plan, they always “stick to the plan!” That’s one of the many mantras of Beauty & the Bee, the cosmetics company that Anthoni’s mom works for as a salesperson. The plan for this summer is to spend a few weeks at the Showboat Resort on Thunder Lake, where Anthoni’s mom has wonderful memories of summers spent there as a child, and Anthoni has a plan to make this the summer she finds a “true blue” friend. When they arrive, it’s clear that the run-down resort is not the place that her mom fondly recalls, and soon Anthoni finds out why they’re really at the resort. Anthoni learns that having mantras to live by is not quite the same as living in the real world in this novel about finding new friends in unexpected places—and maybe a mermaid.
    —JS

    Ages 12–14

    The Multiplying Mysteries of Mount Ten. Krista Van Dolzer. 2019. Bloomsbury.

    The Multiplying Mysteries of Mount TenTwelve-year-old artistic Esther’s plans for a fabulous week at Camp Vermeer go awry when her stepfather drives up the wrong mountain during a storm and they have an accident that disables their old truck. Taking refuge at Camp Archimedes, Esther is disheartened to find herself stuck at this remote camp for math geeks until the storm abates and the truck is repaired. She surprises everyone, including herself, when she solves the First Problem challenge set by Director Verity. She’s still anxious to get to the art camp, but when she finds a cryptic note from “Sphinx” about a riddle and warning that if it goes unsolved someone at the camp will be murdered, Esther bans together with some of the campers to find clues Sphinx has hidden around the camp and solve the puzzle logically—and also decrypt a cipher that leads to the arrest of a clever art forger.
    —CA

    Nerd A to Z: Your Reference to Literally Figuratively Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know. T. J. Resler. 2019. National Geographic.

    Nerd A to ZFrom Artificial Intelligence to Zombies, this information-packed photo-illustrated book could keep readers busy for the whole summer! Defining a nerd as “the kind of kid with smarts, passion, expert knowledge, and the kind of Einstein cool other kids can only dream about,” the National Geographic Kids’ team has put together an alphabet-soup themed book that highlights a variety of topics from science to pop culture. Entries alternate between short pops of information to two-page spreads highlighting high-interest topic and fun “26 Facts About . . .” lists. This is the kind of book that features facts you didn’t even know you wanted to know.
    —JS

    Ages 15+

    Hot Dog Girl. Jennifer Dugan. Putnam/Penguin.

    Hot Dog GirlThis is 16-year-old Elouise’s second summer dressing up as the Hot Dog at Magic Castle Playland, the local theme park, and while it’s not a glamorous role, somebody’s got to do it. Lou’s friend Seeley also works at the park, and Lou comes up with a scheme where she and Seeley will pretend they are a couple in order to make Nick, her secret crush who stars as a diving pirate in the park’s water show, jealous.  This seems like a good plan until she finds herself falling for Seeley and vice versa. A sweet romantic comedy that’s perfect for light summer reading.  
    —JS

    All Ages

    America’s National Parks. Alexa Ward. Mike Lowery. 2019. Lonely Planet Kids.

    America's National ParksReaders can use this Lonely Planet Kids guide to explore America’s 60 national parks from A to Z—from Acadia National Park to Zion National Park. Front matter includes a map with numbered locations of the parks, an introduction, and a “Safety and Responsibility” chart on visiting the national parks. Each entry features interesting notes on features of the park, a “Park in Numbers” chart, “Things to See” and “Things to Do” insets, and a wealth of stunning color photographs of expansive landscapes and snapshots of park features and wildlife. Back matter includes a glossary and an index. America’s National Parks is perfect for reminiscing about past park visits or daydreaming about adventurous vacation trips to make in the future as well as for armchair traveling across the country. 
    —CA

    The Dictionary of Difficult Words. Jane Solomon. Ill. Louise Lockhart. 2019. Frances Lincoln.

    The Dictionary of Difficult WordsIn an introduction to this illustrated collection of more than 400 words that are difficult to pronounce, hard to spell, and have obscure meanings, lexicographer Jane Solomon suggests 10 different ways to use the book such as reading it straight through from A to Z or reading a word aloud and having someone guess the meaning. Each entry includes a pronunciation of the word, its parts of speech classification, and an easy-to-understand definition. Back matter includes information on different types of dictionaries, a question about the reader’s favorite newly learned difficult words (mine is spaghettification), a note on the usage of the word they,and an answer to the question “What makes a word real?” about the creation of new words and how they make it into dictionaries.
    —CA

    Jennifer W. Shettel is a professor at Millersville University of Pennsylvania where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses 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. 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.

    Read More
    • ~5 years old (Grade K)
    • ~4 years old (Grade Pre-K)
    • ~8 years old (Grade 3)
    • ~6 years old (Grade 1)
    • Children's & YA Literature
    • Teacher Educator
    • Librarian
    • Reading Specialist
    • Literacy Education Student
    • Literacy Coach
    • Classroom Teacher
    • Job Functions
    • ~18 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~17 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~16 years old (Grade 11)
    • ~15 years old (Grade 10)
    • ~14 years old (Grade 9)
    • ~13 years old (Grade 8)
    • ~12 years old (Grade 7)
    • ~11 years old (Grade 6)
    • ~10 years old (Grade 5)
    • ~9 years old (Grade 4)
    • ~7 years old (Grade 2)
    • Student Level
    • Book Reviews

    Amateur Sleuths, Detectives, and Spies

    By Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | May 20, 2019

    Readers of all ages who enjoy a well-crafted mystery or detective story will be interested in listening to or reading these recently published books that will draw them into the activities of amateur sleuths, detectives, and spies as they search for clues, break codes, solve crimes, and commit espionage.

    Ages 4–8

    King & Kayla and the Case of Found Fred (King & Kayla #5). Dori Hillestad Butler. Ill. Nancy Meyers. 2019. Peachtree.

    King & Kayla and the Case of Found FredWhen golden retriever King and his human, Kayla, find a lost dog in Grandma’s yard near the lake, they have a new case to solve. As Kayla makes a list of everything they about the dog (no collar, follows commands, Grandma’s neighbors don’t recognize him), King learns that the dog, Fred, ran away from his people during fireworks. When Kayla, Grandma, and the two dogs search for Fred’s family along the shore from a boat, Fred jumps overboard (with King on his heels) and sniffs his way to his family in a nearby campground. Finding himself separated from his humans, King trots back for a happy reunion with Kayla and Grandma on the boat dock. Brightly colored cartoon illustrations provide young readers with visual clues to follow as the detective duo solves this missing canine case, which is humorously told from the point of view of King.
    —CA

    Little Fox and the Missing Moon. Ekaterina Trukhan. 2019. Random House.

    Little Fox and the Missing MoonFor amateur sleuth Little Fox, spring cleaning involves dusting his collection of mystery books and polishing his Detective Magnifying Glass. Awakened during the night by a bad dream about monsters eating the moon, he looks out the window and discovers that, although the stars are shining brightly, the moon is not in the sky. With friends Owl, Bear, and Wolf, Little Fox goes to Rabbit’s house to get him to join the search for the missing moon. They find him in the kitchen scrubbing the moon in a suds-filled sink. Washing the moon is one of Rabbit’s spring cleaning activities. Case solved. Ekaterina Trukhan’s digitally created graphic artwork in muted colors and inky black includes a giggle-inducing scene of the nightmare monsters peppering the moon before chomping into it and a vertical double-page spread showing the friends putting the moon back in the sky.
    —CA

    Recipe for Disaster (Didi Dodo, Future Spy #1). Tom Angleberger. Ill. Jared Chapman. 2019. Amulet/Abrams.

    Recipe for DisasterSomeone has stolen baker Koko Dodo’s Super Secret Fudge Sauce, the topping he needs to put on his cookies to win the Queen’s Royal Cookie Contest being held at the mall that afternoon. Koko Dodo needs the sauce’s secret ingredient (which is so secret even he doesn’t know what it is), and the only clue is the empty jar. Not to worry. Didi Dodo, Future Spy, who has just speeded into the Cookie Shop on roller skates, has a daring plan to locate the thief and save the day. And so begins a complicated and wacky series of encounters with a host of interesting characters and daring misadventures ending with an outrageously riotous romp through the mall—and the promise of more cases to come. Short action-filled chapters and cartoon illustrations (including a comic strip and recipe cards) make this a fun-to-read first chapter book.
    —CA

    There Are No Bears in This Bakery. Julia Sarcone-Roach. 2019. Knopf/Random House.

    There Are No Bears in This Bakery“The name is Muffin. And this is my tale.” When unfamiliar night sounds hit the alley, Muffin the cat investigates. Discovering a hungry cub in the Little Bear Bakery, Muffin is on the case (the cookie case!) helping him to the bakery goods. Then an enormous mama bear that smells like a “dumpster on a hot day” sneaks up and, after an initial staring contest, engulfs Muffin and the cub in a big, long bear hug. Together they all finish the night with a snack of sprinkles before Muffin sends the bears on their way. Exhausted by the busy night, Muffin is ready for a nap, and this cat-noir tale ends with “So that’s it. Another case closed by Muffin. No bears in Little Bear Bakery. Not anymore.” Humorous illustrations created using acrylic paint, cut paper, and markers in a palette of just-right-for-night colors bring the world of this little cat detective with a big personality to life.
    —NB   

    Ages 9–11

    Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers (Kazu Jones #1). Shauna M. Holyoak. 2019. Disney-Hyperion.

    Kazu JonesIn this middle-grade series opener, 11-year-old Japanese-American Kazuko, a spunky self-proclaimed detective who lives with her parents and dog, Genki, walks dogs, delivers newspapers, and does odd jobs for a neighbor in Denver, where dognapping is occurring. While walking the neighbor’s dog, Barkley, Kazu lets him off leash. Barkley runs away, and, when she can’t find him, she suspects he has been dognapped. Within the week, classmates CindeeRae and Madeleine have their dogs stolen, and her own beloved Genki disappears. Even after the police and her mother warn her away from crime-solving activities, Kazu, March (fellow detective and tech hacker), CindeeRae, and Madeleine band together to gather clues, crack codes, and decipher notes to solve the mystery of the missing dogs—and discover more than they bargained for. A hook at the end will draw readers into the next book in the series.
    —NB

    The Secrets of Winterhouse (Winterhouse #2). Ben Guterson. Ill. Chloe Bristol. 2019. Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt/Macmillan.

    The Secrets of WinterhouseIt’s Christmas, and 12-year-old Elizabeth Somers, a book lover and puzzle solver, has returned as a permanent resident to Winterhouse, the enchanting hotel owned by her grandfather Norbridge. With the help of permanent guest and inventor 12-year-old Freddy, she observes the inexplicable behavior of eccentric guests prowling and tapping on walls, deciphers the Winterhouse seal in front of Grace Hall, sleuths for secrets in the library, searches for powerful artifacts hidden by former guest Riley S. Granger, and locates concealed passageways. Pitted against the spirit of Gracella Winter (Norbridge’s deceased sister), Elizabeth must win the fight of her life if Winterhouse is to survive. Fans of paranormal mysteries who missed Winterhouse (2018), in which Elizabeth makes her first visit to the hotel, may want to check it out too. Black-and-white illustrations, charts, anagrams, riddles, and puzzles invite readers to discover the secrets of Winterhouse along with Elizabeth.
    —NB

    Ages 12–14

    George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spies Who Saved America (Young Readers’ Edition). Brian Kilmeade & Don Yaeger. 2019. Viking/Penguin.

    Secret SixRecognizing that the small, untrained, poorly supplied Continental Army would not be able to overpower the British forces, in 1778, General George Washington directed Captain Benjamin Tallmadge to act as a spymaster on Long Island to create an intelligence network, the Culper Ring (which eventually included farmer Abraham Woodhull, longshoreman Caleb Brewster, tavern keeper Austin Roe, dry goods shopkeeper Robert Townsend, printer James Rivington, and a woman known only as Agent 355). The important role this top-secret ring of spies played in General Washington’s decision making during the American Revolution is chronicled in this accessible and engaging adaptation for young readers. Appendixes include interesting notes on the postwar lives of the Culper Ring; Washington’s time as a spy; the significance of the Culper Ring; ways of communicating in secret: use of invisible ink and alphabetical coding; a timeline; an annotated list of selected sources; and an index.
    —CA

    How I Became a Spy: A Mystery of WW II London. Deborah Hopkinson. 2019. Knopf/Random House.

    How I Became a SpyOn the night of February 18, 1944, while on patrol as a London civil defense volunteer, 12-year-old Bertie Bradshaw runs into a girl with his bicycle and recovers a notebook she dropped. After learning that the journal was given to Eleanor, the American girl he hit, for safe-keeping by her French tutor, Violette, who has gone missing, and that someone else seems to be after the journal, Bertie, Eleanor, and his friend David set out to decipher its entries. In doing so, they uncover a double agent and a plot to disrupt the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Epigraphs from Sherlock Holmes’ mysteries and a Special Operations Executive’s Wartime Spy-training Manual add interest. Back matter includes ciphers to practice on; source notes; an author’s note; an interview with Deborah Hopkinson; and a roster of terms, events, and historical figures.
    —CA

    Ages 15+

    The Lonely Dead. April Henry. 2019. Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt/Macmillan.

    The Lonely DeadSixteen-year-old Adele Meeker, who lives with her grandfather (her only living relative), suffers from familial schizophrenia and can see the dead when she’s not on her medications, and since she hasn’t taken them for the last two weeks, she feels more alive than she has for years. The day after a rowdy high-school party where everyone drank too much and where Adele was verbally attacked by Tori Rasmussen, her former best friend from grade school, after she caught Adele kissing her boyfriend, she finds ghost Tori leaning against a tree in Gabriel Park in last night’s outfit, tethered to her semi-buried body by a gray rope of mist. Quickly identified as a prime murder suspect, Adele must work with snarky Tori, whom no one else can see or hear and whose memory of her murder is slow in returning, to clear her name and help identify the real killer before she becomes the next victim in this paranormal thriller.
    —NB

    What We Buried. Kate A. Boorman. 2019. Henry Holt/Macmillan.

    What We BuriedAlthough they despise everything about each other and their parents, 16-year-old Lavinia, a former child beauty queen suing her parents for legal emancipation because of her forced participation in a teenage reality TV show, and 18-year-old Jory, born with Moebius syndrome (partial facial paralysis) and a recluse, take off on a road trip to the family cabin in Nevada to solve the mystery of their parents’ disappearance from the courthouse on the day of Liv’s hearing. Readers quickly realize that things are not as they seem in this story told from the alternating points of view of Liv and Jory and interspersed with flashbacks to their childhoods and a pervading sense of déjà vu. This fast-paced psychological thriller builds to a surrealistic crescendo as Liv and Jory use the clues they’ve discovered and memories they’ve buried to figure out what happened to their parents, to uncover family secrets, and to deal with a final reality so duplicitous they never could have imagined it.
    —NB

    Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English, 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.

    Read More
    • ~7 years old (Grade 2)
    • ~8 years old (Grade 3)
    • Librarian
    • Literacy Education Student
    • Job Functions
    • Teacher Educator
    • Reading Specialist
    • ~10 years old (Grade 5)
    • Literacy Coach
    • ~6 years old (Grade 1)
    • Classroom Teacher
    • ~4 years old (Grade Pre-K)
    • ~18 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~17 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~16 years old (Grade 11)
    • ~15 years old (Grade 10)
    • ~14 years old (Grade 9)
    • ~13 years old (Grade 8)
    • ~12 years old (Grade 7)
    • ~11 years old (Grade 6)
    • ~9 years old (Grade 4)
    • ~5 years old (Grade K)
    • Student Level
    • Book Reviews
    • Children's & YA Literature

    Stories in Verse

    By Skye Deiter and Carolyn Angus
     | May 13, 2019

    Stories in verse are popular with readers of all ages. The books reviewed this week include picture books with the auditory appeal of a rhyming text paired with expressive artwork for young children and novels that fuse poetry and narrative in a more engaging and accessible format for older readers. 

    Ages 4–8 

    The Cook and the King. Julia Donaldson. Ill. David Roberts. 2019. Abrams.

    The Cook and the King“There once was a very hungry king / Who needed a cook like anything,” but none of the offerings of applicants for the job satisfy him. Finally, the king gives Wobbly Bob (“I’m a bit of a wimp, but I’d love the job.”) a chance to make him some fish and chips. When it’s time to do each step in the preparation of the king’s favorite dish, however, Bob declares, “I’m scared! I’m scared! I’m terrible scared!” It is the king who ends up preparing the dish (from catching the fish and digging up the potatoes, to frying up and serving the fish and chips). After sharing the meal with Bob, the king is well pleased with the delicious dish—and the cook. “Congratulations, Wobbly Bob. / You may be a wimp, but you’ve got the job!” A clever, rollicking rhyme and colorful, expressive artwork make this book a read-aloud treat.
    —CA

    Hello, I’m Here! Helen Frost. Ill. Rick Lieder. 2019. Candlewick.

    Hello, I'm Here!Employing the perspective of a newborn Sandhill crane, Helen Frost poetically describes the chick’s first moments after hatching as it boldly announces itself to the world (“Hello, I’m here!”) and discovers family (“Look, I’m standing! / One step. Another. / Hey, who’s this? / Are you my brother?”). Simple, four-line stanzas with an ABCB rhyme scheme on double-page spreads chronicle the chick’s adventures and discoveries in the marsh while loving crane parents shield it from possible dangers. Frost’s lyrics are accompanied by Rick Lieder’s stunning full-color photographs, which depict interactions between adult cranes and their chicks. Back matter provides additional information on Sandhill crane families.
    —SD

    My Heart. Corinna Luyken. 2019. Dial/Penguin.

    My HeartAuthorillustrator Corinna Luyken scatters short lines of rhyming text across pages to deliver a timeless message of the heart’s role in our ability to love, heal, grow, and be self-guided. “My heart is a shadow, / a light, and a guide. / Closed or open . . . / I get to decide.” Luyken’s lyrical text, rich in metaphors, offers assurance to young readers that the heart is a place to turn to when shadows of self-doubt or sorrow creep in, and that it serves as a personal guide to help “mend” broken parts of one’s life. Lovely, monotype print illustrations (created with water-based inks and pencil) featuring a young child and camouflaged hearts enhance the mood of this delicate text as yellow and shades of grey, both separate and intermingling, echo the joys and sorrows our hearts endure.
    —SD

    Never Trumpet with a Crumpet. Amy Gibson. Ill. Jenn Harney. 2019. Boyds Mills/Highlights.

    Never Trumpet With a Crumpet“Now if perchance Her Majesty / so happens to ask you to tea,” you should definitely not do what a group of animals do when they receive an invitation from the Queen. Colorful, digitally created cartoon illustrations show animal guests breaking the rules of good table manners. “No wolfing food or snapping jaws. / Use your fork and not your paws…. // And—goodness, gracious!—never trumpet / when you’re nibbling on a crumpet.” A double-spread illustration shows the appalled queen and a delighted young prince witnessing the elephant’s trumpeting sending the teapot, dishes, platters of food, and even a small guest flying from the table. Nonetheless, as the guests depart, the gracious Queen smiles, waves, and extends an invitation to come again before she falls asleep amid the wreckage.
    —CA

    The Tall Man and the Small Mouse. Mara Bergman. Ill. Birgitta Sif. 2019. Candlewick.
     
    The Tall Man and the Small MouseAlthough they live in the same house, the tall man and the small mouse have never met. The tall man did tall things that needed doing during the day, while the small mouse crept around at night doing small things that needed doing. When their paths cross unexpectedly one morning, the tall man realizes the small mouse’s help is just what he needs to complete work on the town’s broken clock. The pair discover they make a great team, become good friends, and “come rain or shine, whatever the weather, / they do the things that need doing / TOGETHER!” In the cheery illustrations (done in pencil and colored digitally) that complement Mara Bergman’s rhythmic narrative, Birgitta Sif effectively elongates details to parallel the man’s tallness.  
    —SD

    Tomorrow Most Likely. Dave Eggers. Ill. Lane Smith. 2019. Chronicle.

    Tomorrow Most LikelyThis whimsical bedtime story explores the promises of what the next day might bring as a young black boy is tucked into bed. “Tomorrow most likely / there will be a sky. / And chances are it will be blue. /  Tomorrow most likely / there will be a squirrel. / And chances are his name is Stu.” The playfulness of Dave Egger’s rhythmic text is perfectly matched by Lane Smith’s colorful, textured illustrations that show the ordinary and extraordinary experiences the boy might have in his urban neighborhood tomorrow, including an encounter with a big bug who is worried about his missing friend, Stu. As the boy falls asleep, the story ends with a reassuring “Tomorrow most likely / will be a great day / because you are in it. / and Stu is okay.”
    —CA

    Wings. Cheryl B. Klein. Ill. Tomie dePaola. 2019. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    WingsCheryl B. Klein’s spare, rhyming text (one word per spread) and Tomie dePaola’s charming collage and mixed media illustrations tell the story of one baby bird’s determination to take flight for the first time. The timid bird “clings” to its nest, then finally “flings” itself downward in hopes of soaring and instead lands headfirst in a puddle. Almost defeated by the initial “stings” and “dings” of the first failed attempt, the sight of wriggling worms (“things”) brings hope to the baby bird as its hungry siblings wait back in the nest. “Things. / Brings? / Springs… / Sings!” The punctuation used in the poem eventually evolves from periods and ellipses to exclusively exclamation points, mirroring the change in tone from the young bird’s initial uncertainty to its later delight and triumph!
    —SD

    Ages 9–11

    Birdie. Eileen Spinelli. 2019. Eerdmans.

    BirdieTwelve-year-old Birdie Briggs is having a difficult time dealing with the changes in her life which are becoming so confusing that even her love of birds—and playing Scrabble every Saturday with her best friend, Martin Stefano—can’t lift her spirits. Birdie and her mother have been living with her grandmother, Maymee, in the small town of Hadley Falls since the death of her father, a Philadelphia firefighter who died three years ago while on duty. Now her mother is dating a police officer; Martin has a crush on Nina, a new girl in town; and even Maymee has a boyfriend. In short free-verse poems, Birdie’s narration reveals how she comes to understand that change is a part of growing up and that making room for others in her life can be a good thing. 
    —CA

    The Moon Within. Anita Salazar. 2019. Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic.

    The Moon WithinCeli Rivera, who lives in Oakland, California, and describes her heritage as “Black-Puerto Rican-Mexican,” loves dancing bomba and participating in the traditional Puerto Rican drum dance performances in which her father is a master drummer, but also has a troubling concern about another cultural expectation. Her mother insists that they will celebrate her first period with a traditional Mexican “moon ceremony.” When her childhood friend Magda Sánchez asks to be called Marco, identifying as one of the xochihuah, “people who danced between or to other energies than what they were assigned at birth,” Celi’s loyalty to her best friend is tested by her first crush, “black-xican” Iván’s cruel and insensitive jokes about Mar’s genderfluidity. Aida Salazar tells this engaging coming-of-age story with beautifully crafted first-person poems.
    —CA

    Ages 12–14

    Soaring Earth: A Companion Memoir to Enchanted Air. Margarita Engle. 2019. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    Soaring EarthThis companion memoir told in verse through a combination of simple and complex stanzas that occasionally mix in Spanish words conveys the identity struggle Margarita Engle faced as a Cuban-American teenager during the Vietnam War era. The first of the memoir’s six sections, “Wide Air,” reveals Engle’s yearning to visit her Cuban family (despite a travel ban), which was initiated by her struggle over identity—a struggle which was further compounded by additional adversities mentioned in the “Drifting” section, including discrimination, failed education, abuse, drugs, poverty, and conflict over war. Engle finally rediscovers herself and poetry when she realizes her passion for agronomy. “This time, I won’t give up. / I need to learn how to help feed the hungry / with roots, shoots, seeds, fruit, / and perseverance/” Short titles beautifully capture the mood and subject-matter of each poem.
    —SD

    Ages 15+

    White Rose. Kip Wilson. 2019. Versify/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    White RoseBased on a true story, this lyrical narrative recounts German Sophie Scholl’s involvement in White Rose, a World War II resistance group organized by her older brother Hans. To chronologize the historical events and build context, the novel in verse switches between “The End” (the period of interrogation and sentencing for the “treasonous” acts of creating and distributing anonymous wartime leaflets) and “Before” (Sophie’s upbringing and life events leading to her disapproval of the Nazi regime). “How can we expect / justice / in this world / if we’re not prepared to / sacrifice ourselves / for what is right?” Back matter includes a Dramatis Personae of Sophie’s family, members of White Rose, and individuals involved in the Gestapo interrogations and sentencing. A German glossary and bibliographical references are included.
    —SD

    Skye Deiter is an elementary classroom teacher in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and a recent graduate from Pennsylvania State Harrisburg’s Masters in Literacy Education Program. 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.

    Read More
    • Student Level
    • ~4 years old (Grade Pre-K)
    • ~5 years old (Grade K)
    • ~6 years old (Grade 1)
    • Children's & YA Literature
    • Teacher Educator
    • Librarian
    • Reading Specialist
    • Literacy Education Student
    • Literacy Coach
    • Classroom Teacher
    • Job Functions
    • ~18 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~17 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~16 years old (Grade 11)
    • ~15 years old (Grade 10)
    • ~14 years old (Grade 9)
    • ~13 years old (Grade 8)
    • ~12 years old (Grade 7)
    • ~11 years old (Grade 6)
    • ~10 years old (Grade 5)
    • ~9 years old (Grade 4)
    • ~8 years old (Grade 3)
    • ~7 years old (Grade 2)
    • Book Reviews

    Graphic Novels

    By Barbara A. Ward and Carolyn Angus
     | May 06, 2019

    As temperatures start to rise and classrooms move into their last month of school before summer vacation, many educators will be looking for engaging books to keep students reading and learning all summer long. With their appealing visual format, graphic novels often seem to be just the right choice for enjoyable independent reading. Here are some of our recent favorites.

    Ages 4–8

    Captain Barbosa and the Pirate Hat Chase. Jorge González. 2019. Graphic Universe/Lerner.

    Captain BarbosaWhen a seagull flies on board Captain Barbosa’s sailboat and steals his black hat, the pirate and his crew of an elephant, mosquito, and crocodile set out to recover his favorite hat. After battling stormy seas and surviving an encounter with a green, one-eyed sea monster (who fortunately is friendly and deposits their ship on the very island that is home to the seagull), Captain Barbosa spies his hat. Scaling a tall cliff to retrieve it, Captain Barbosa is in for a surprise. His hat is being used as a nursery for seagull chicks. Softly colored pencil drawings make this humorous, wordless picture book (an import from Spain) a great introduction to graphic novels for young children.
    —CA

    ¡Vamos!: Let’s Go to the Market. Raúl the Third. Color by Elaine Bay. 2019. Versify/Houghton Mifflin.

    VamosLittle Lobo (an anthropomorphized wolf) and his dog, Bernabé, deliver supplies to shops and booths in the Mercado and visit with the friendly vendors selling food, sombreros, puppets, hand-carved masks, piñatas, and other items. When he delivers some clothespins needed by Señor Duende to display the magazines and comic books he sells in his stall, Little Lobo is given a Lucha Comix featuring his favorite wrestler, El Toro. On the last delivery of the day, he unexpectedly meets El Toro, who autographs his comic, and Little Lobo gives his hero a ride home in his wagon. A humorous narrative, which smoothly mixes English and Spanish and paneled and full-page cartoon artwork, invites young children to read ¡Vamos! again and again. A Spanish–English glossary is appended.
    —CA

    The Wolf in Underpants. Wilfrid Lupano. Trans. Nathan Sacks. Ill. Mayana Itoïz & Paul Cauuet. 2019. Graphic Universe/Lerner.

    The Wolf in UnderpantsA community of woodland animals lives in fear of the wolf. Even the anti-wolf brigade shakes with fear as the here-comes-the-wolf alarm is sounded. But when the wolf arrives, no one can believe he’s the wolf with crazy eyes and fangs like ice picks that they fear. The wolf is wearing red-and-white striped underpants that have, he explains, changed his life by taking care of his “cold butt problem.” No longer having the fear of the wolf central to their lives leaves everyone confused until someone points out a missing-person poster. “If it wasn’t the wolf, what happened to those Little Pigs who disappeared?” The final page provides a clue—and something new to fear. The colorful cartoon artwork of this funny and slightly scary graphic novel/picture book hybrid, originally published in France, will delight young children.
    —CA

    Ages 9–11

    The Mutts Summer Diaries (Mutts Kids #5). Patrick McDonnell. 2019. Andrews McMeel.

    The Mutts Summer DiariesThis amusing collection of comic strips featuring best friends, canine Earl and feline Mooch, enjoying summertime is as refreshing as a glass of lemonade on a hot summer day. Like many of us, Mooch and Earl laze the days away as they savor the slower pace of life and deal with the hot weather. When their human companions head to the beach for their family vacation, Mooch and Earl go along, snacking on ice cream while pondering the mysteries of life, watching whales, and getting to know the other creatures on the beach. An appended “More to Explore” section offers brief information on dolphins, squids, blue whales, seagulls, mussels, and other sea life the two friends encounter during their summer adventures. Readers of all ages can continue enjoying the clever humor of Patrick McDonnell’s syndicated cartoons about Mooch and Earl in the earlier books in the Mutt series.
    —BW

    Polar Bears: Survival on the Ice (Get to Know Your Universe!). Jason Viola. Ill. Zack Giallongo. 2019. First Second/Roaring Brook.

    Survival on the IceThis entry in the informative and entertaining Science Comic series takes readers to the Arctic, the home of polar bear cubs Anik and Ila, where they will learn about the biology of polar bears as the mother of these two playful cubs teaches them everything they need to know about polar bear life and survival on the ice. The lessons, delivered in colorful illustrations, include learning about the characteristics of the polar bear (Ursus maritimus), its environment, and the essentials of polar bear behavior. The cubs must master skills and strategies related to hunting and eating seals, establishing a home range and protecting it, the “dos and don’ts” of mating, and awareness of threats to the survival of polar bears. Back matter includes a glossary, ice terminology, notes, and further reading.
    —CA

    Rocket to the Moon! (Big Ideas That Changed the World #1). Don Brown. 2019. Amulet/Abrams.

    Rocket to the MoonIn this first book in his new informational graphic novel series, Rodman Law, career parachutist, building climber, and movie stuntman, narrates this history of rocket-building and spaceflights (both successes and failures) that led to NASA’s Apollo 11 landing of the first humans on the moon on July 20, 1969. Rocket to the Moon! ends with Rodman Law’s reminder that “one bright idea followed another, until the big idea to fly to the moon changed the world forever.” Brown’s graphic artwork adds visual humor to the accessible and well-researched account of key events. Back matter includes a timeline (from the publication of Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon in 1865 to NASA’s launch of the Parker Solar Probe on August 12, 2018), a brief biography of Rodman Law (18851919), source notes on quotations, a bibliography, an author’s note, and an index.
    —CA

    Ages 12–14

    Hephaistos: God of Fire (Olympians #11). George O’Connor. 2019. First Second/Roaring Brook.

    HephaistosAs George O’Connor’s popular graphic novel series about Greek gods and goddesses comes to an end, readers will be delighted to see several of the immortals living on Mount Olympus finally get their comeuppance. Hephaistos highlights just how messed up the family dynamics of the Olympians are as Zeus pursues woman after woman and his long-suffering wife, Hera, berates him in a pointless attempt to change his ways, and Hephaistos, the god of fire, is duped by his beautiful wife, Aphrodite, who dallies with Ares while he is distracted with a task Ares has given him. When the cuckolded god finds out what’s going on right under his nose, he exacts revenge in a fitting way. O'Connor has brought these ancient stories of the Olympians to life in graphic format, making them easier for modern audiences to understand. Although the setting may be Mount Olympus and ancient Greece, these stories have much to teach readers about human nature.
    —BW

    The Iliad. Homer. Adapt. Gareth Hinds. 2019. Candlewick.

    The IliadGareth Hinds retells Homer’s epic poem The Iliad,set during the tenth year of the Trojan War, in which the Acheans (Greeks) lay siege to Troy to return Helen (the daughter of Zeus and wife of Menelaus), who was seduced by Paris, Prince of Troy, and seek revenge and treasure by conquering Troy. With stunning, paneled artwork (done in pencil, watercolor, and digital media) and accessible prose, Hind’s well-researched and beautifully crafted adaptation of The Iliad will be enjoyed by those familiar with Homer’s epic of war as well as newcomers. Front matter includes a chart with portraits, names, and identifications of Achaeans, Trojans, and Gods who play important roles in the tale and a prologue. Back matter includes an extensive author’s note, a map of the armies that gathered at Troy, page-by-page notes, and a bibliography. Readers will also be interested in Hind’s graphic novel companion volume Odyssey (2010).
    —CA

    Ages 15+

    Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos. Lucy Knisley. 2019. First Second Books/Roaring Brook.

    Kid GlovesAs she has in previous books, authorillustrator Lucy Knisley shares her own journey, this time focusing on the ups and downs in her education on sexual health as a teen, contraception, fertility problems, and miscarriages before she finally successfully gives birth to a son following a difficult pregnancy. Along with her personal story, Knisley provides information on the science and history of reproductive health and debunks myths and old wives' tales about it. Kid Gloves is not only informative but also filled with love, heart, and warm humor. The book’s graphic novel format makes it an appealing and accessible choice for teens.  
    —BW

    Kiss Number 8. Colleen AF Venable. Ill. Ellen T. Crenshaw. 2019. First Second/Roaring Brook.

    Kiss Number 8It’s 2004, and life is good for Amanda (Mads), a senior at a Catholic high school who enjoys spending time with her good friends, Laura, Adam, and fun-loving Cat, and her best friend, her father, with whom she loves attending minor league baseball games and watching TV. Overhearing a phone conversation that upsets her father and the behavior of her parents that follows lead Mads to believe they are hiding a secret from her. Mads is also beginning to realize that she has a crush on Cat. The results are a messy and confusing tangle of relationship with her family and friends. How can she confront her parents about this family secret? Is she really more interested in kissing girls than in kissing boys? Panels of expressive black-and-white artwork and realistic dialogue, with a balance of angst and humor, make Kiss Number 8 an engaging and thought-provoking story for teen readers.
    —CA

    Barbara A. Ward teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in literacy at Washington State University, Pullman. She spent 25 years teaching in the public schools of New Orleans, where she worked with students at every grade level, from kindergarten through high school as well as several ability levels. She is certified in elementary education, English education, and gifted education. She holds a bachelor's degree in communications, a master's in English education from the University of Tennessee and a PhD in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans. 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.

    Read More
    • Student Level
    • ~6 years old (Grade 1)
    • Book Reviews
    • Literacy Education Student
    • ~5 years old (Grade K)
    • Teacher Educator
    • Librarian
    • Reading Specialist
    • Literacy Coach
    • Classroom Teacher
    • ~7 years old (Grade 2)
    • Job Functions
    • ~18 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~17 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~16 years old (Grade 11)
    • ~15 years old (Grade 10)
    • ~14 years old (Grade 9)
    • ~13 years old (Grade 8)
    • ~12 years old (Grade 7)
    • ~11 years old (Grade 6)
    • ~10 years old (Grade 5)
    • ~9 years old (Grade 4)
    • ~8 years old (Grade 3)
    • ~4 years old (Grade Pre-K)
    • Children's & YA Literature

    Read Now, Read Forever

    By Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | Apr 29, 2019

    The 100th anniversary of Children’s Book Week is being celebrated April 29–May 5 at bookstores, libraries, and schools across the country. This year’s theme, Read Now, Read Forever, “looks to the past, present, and most important, the future of children’s books.” In reflecting on the importance of free choice in our own development as lifelong readers, this week we review books that we were especially eager to read.

    Ages 4–8

    Circle. Mac Barnett. Ill. Jon Klassen. 2019. Candlewick.

    CircleIn the conclusion of this shapes trilogy, Circle invites Square and Triangle to play hide-and-seek anywhere except behind the waterfall where it is dark, which is exactly where Circle has to rescue frightened Triangle and where they both are scared by a pair of eyes. Jon Klassen’s minimalistic illustrations (created digitally and with watercolor and graphite) morph from outdoor scenes against expansive white backgrounds into black double-page spreads featuring only eyes. Back safely from behind the waterfall, Circle talks about what they saw deep in the cave and muses, “It might have been a good shape. We just could not see it.” Circle instructs her friends to close their eyes and imagine what kind of shape it was. On the final black page, the question “If you close your eyes, what shape do you picture?” invites readers to do the same. 
    —NB

    The Donkey Egg. Janet Stevens & Susan Stevens Crummel. Ill. Janet Stevens. 2019. Houghton Mifflin.

    The Donkey EggBear sleeps in his chair instead of taking care of his farm until Fox tricks him into buying a big, green donkey egg for 20 dollars, and his life changes. He cares for his “egg” by sitting on it, singing to it, telling it stories (and acting out parts), dancing and playing with it, and rocking it—until he drops it when he falls asleep. With the egg “on the loose!” Bear and friends chase after it until the green donkey egg cracks open. Disappointed, Bear and good friend Hare plant the seeds found inside and grow watermelons they sell to buy a donkey! Expressive, mixed-media illustrations, inserts with fun facts, and playful text provide a laugh-out-loud trickster tale.
    —NB 

    Good Boy. Sergio Ruzzier. 2019. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    Good BoyWith only one or two words on a page, Sergio Ruzzier tells a delightful story of a small boy and his dog that begins with the boy training the dog with simple commands (sit, stay, roll over) and then moves on to tricks (stand, shake, bow) and playful activities (fetch, jump, juggle). After the clever dog cooks and serves a meal, they eat, clean up, and head outdoors. Colorful illustrations (rendered in ink and watercolor) show the pair heading to the beach in a pedal-powered cart, fixing a damaged boat, sailing to an island, building a rocket, and soaring to a planet where they make new friends before returning home. Young children will become aware of an apparent shift in their relationship during their bedtime routine (wash, brush, dress, read, sing) that ends with “Stay. Good boy.”
    —CA

    Motor Mouse (Motor Mouse #1). Cynthia Rylant. Ill. Arthur Howard. 2019. Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster.

    Motor MouseCynthia Rylant and Arthur Howard introduce Motor Mouse, who delivers packages all around town in his little red motorcar, in three short stories with colorful, boldly outlined cartoons. In the first story, when their end-of-week celebration is ruined by the closing of the Cake Shop, a friendly hedgehog takes Motor Mouse and Telly (his otter pal) to eat pie on Cake Friday. “And it was QUITE ACCEPTABLE.” In the second, on his day off, Motor Mouse hires a cab so he can look around town without having to keep his eye on the road and ends up sharing memories and making friends with the cabbie (a raccoon). In the final story, on Saturday at the movies, Motor Mouse has the perfect solution to a weekly dispute with his brother, Valentino, over sharing popcorn: a “biggest bucket” for each of them.
    —CA

    Ruby & Rufus Love the Water! (Gossie & Friends). Olivier Dunrea. 2019. Houghton Mifflin.

    Ruby & RufusIn this twelfth book in his series begun with Gossie (2002), Olivier Dunrea introduces two new goslings: Ruby in a red bathing cap with white polka dots and Rufus in a red-and-white striped cap. They swim on the pond all day and every day, until one cold snowy morning, they find the water is frozen. Still in their bathing caps, they slide across the ice and streak across the ice in their red-and-white inner tube throughout the winter until warm weather returns and they play once again in the water. “Ruby and Rufus love the pond all year round.” The spare text and charming ink-and-watercolor illustrations featuring the two small friends at play and set against expansive white backgrounds make this small book perfect for sharing again and again with young children.
    —CA

    Ages 9–11

    The Parrot and the Merchant: A Tale by Rumi. Marjan Vafaeian. Trans. Azita Rassi. 2019. Tiny Owl.

    The Parrot and the MerchantMah Jahan, a traveling Persian merchant, collects beautiful birds that she keeps in cages or in chains. When Mah Jahan asks her favorite bird, a talking parrot, what gift she could bring her when she returns from a trading trip, the sad bird requests that she say hello to her parrot friends who live wild and free in the Indian jungle and ask if they have any messages for her. Upon returning home, Mah Jahan reports, “I’m afraid that they said nothing at all, but one poor parrot fell out of the tree, dead.” The parrot’s response to this message teaches Mah Jahan a surprising but important lesson about freedom, happiness, and love. Iranian illustrator Marjan Vafaeian’s choice to make the merchant a woman provides the opportunity to dress Mah Jahan in voluminous, exquisitely patterned gowns in the stylized illustrations for this ancient fable.
    —CA

    Trees: A Rooted History. Piotr Sacha. Trans. Anna Burgess. Ill. Wojciech Grajkowski. 2019. Abrams.

    TreesThis oversize compendium on trees includes spreads of colorful, intricate drawings with explanatory text on the vertical margins covering the characteristics and diversity of trees, their place in the natural world, and roles they have played from ancient times to the present in the lives of humans. Browsers will be attracted to topics such as endemic species, the oldest trees, treehouses from around the world, and tree monsters in mythology, folklore, and literature. The final entry, “Trees for the Future,” picturing a giant sequoia being chopped down by lumberjacks, is a reminder of the importance of planting trees and thinking twice before we cut them down.
    —CA

    Ages 12–14

    The Giver (Giver Quartet #1). Lois Lowry. Adapt. P. Craig Russell. Ill. P. Craig Russell, Galen Showman, & Scott Hampton.  2019. Houghton Mifflin.

    The GiverP. Craig Russell’s graphic novel adaptation of Lois Lowry’s The Giver closely follows the dialogue of the original story, and the paneled artwork (rendered in blue pencil, pencil, ink, blue ink wash, and grey ink wash) provides a dramatic visual representation of events as they unfold. After he is selected by the Committee of Elders to be the next Receiver of Memory, 12-year-old Jonas begins to question the colorless, conforming, and controlling Sameness of the community in which he lives as the Giver begins to transfer all the memories of the whole world to him—and he learns disturbing secrets about this seemingly utopian society. Conversations with Lowry and Russell about the graphic adaptation of this provocative 1994 Newbery Medal-winning fantasy are appended.
    —CA

    The Weight of Our Sky. Hanna Alkaf. 2019. Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster.

    The Weight of Our SkyIt’s 1969 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and 16-year-old Melati Ahmad, a Muslim Malay, struggles with OCD, which arose after the death of her father the prior year. Counting and tapping objects while performing daily rituals (compulsive phone calls, blinking, flicking light switches) is exhausting, and her thoughts are often hijacked by an inner djinn predicting her mother’s horrific death unless she follows his specific instructions. On May 13, Melati is rescued by a stranger, Chinese Auntie Bee, from a movie theater where her best friend, Safiyah, is killed by terrorists, and she finds herself in the middle of a violent race riot between Malays and Chinese. To survive, Mel must fight against her inner demon and crippling compulsions and let strangers into her life while she searches for her mother and promotes unity. “We make our own sky, and we can hold it up—together.”
    —NB

    Ages 15+

    The Gilded Wolves (Gilded Wolves #1). Roshani Chokshi. 2019. Wednesday/St. Martin/Macmillan.

    The Gilded WolvesIn this complex fantasy set in 1889 Paris, the Exposition Universelle (world’s fair) is about to open. Séverin Montagnet-Alarie (illegitimate French-Algerian disowned heir of the disbanded House Vanth) is enlisted by former childhood companion Hypnos (French-Haitian and Patriarch of the House Kore) to bring him the Eye of Horus in exchange for restoring Séverin’s inheritance. Séverin, assisted by an international team of experts, each with secrets, solves riddles and puzzles to uncover the artifact before it can be used by revolutionaries to transform themselves into gods. Chokshi threads postcolonial themes into this steampunk-esque thrilling opener to this new series told through the points of view of a cast of memorable characters.
    —NB

    The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe. Ally Condie. 2019. Dutton/Penguin.

    The Last Voyage of Poe BlytheAfter engineer Poe Blythe loses Call, her childhood love whom she met in an orphanage, in a raid on the ship they’re working on, she vows revenge on the raiders who killed him. The Admiral (protector of the settlers in the abandoned Outpost)names Poe, now 17, Captain of the Gilded Lily, for which she’s designed the most failsafe raider-proof ship armor ever created so its crew can safely trench gold from the river. Beginning with her first day on the ship, she receives threatening messages from someone on her crew. Betrayal, sabotage, and challenges cause her to question who the raiders are, why the Admiral needs so much gold, and if her loyalties are being wrongly manipulated—and result in her ripping apart her beloved ship to fight the almost-inevitable course of events in this action-filled dystopian novel.
    NB

    Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English, 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.

    Read More
Back to Top

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives