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    Meet Some Memorable Characters

    By Carolyn Angus
     | Feb 05, 2018

    I am drawn to books with memorable characters, and as I read the books reviewed this week, I met quite a few. There are stories of animal characters (including a sleepwalking lemur and a tiptoeing tiger) with whom younger children will enjoy sharing mini-adventures and realistic stories as well as fantasies in which older readers will meet a diverse group of characters doing interesting things in interesting places.

    Ages 4–8

    Click, Clack, Moo I Love You! Doreen Cronin. Ill. Betsy Lewin. 2018. Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    Click, Clack, MooLittle Duck is busy decorating Farmer Brown’s barn with balloons, streamers, hearts, and lots of glitter for a Valentine’s Day dance. As the guests—all the barnyard animals except the cows, who are having a more formal evening out at the Divine Bovine Ball—arrive, Little Duck greets them with a valentine and a “Quack quack quack!” The chickens dance with the chickens, the pigs with the pigs, and the sheep with the sheep. With the arrival of an unexpected guest, a little fox who heard the music, the frightened animals stop dancing. Little Duck, however, is not scared, greets Little Fox with a valentine, and begins dancing with him. “Yip, quack, yip, quack, yip, quack quack!” Just what is needed to encourage mixing it up. Chickens dance with sheep, pigs dance with chickens, and everybody dances with everybody else until the cows come home. A line of seven barn mice doing the hustle is a delightful detail in Lewin’s lively watercolor illustrations.

    Lemur Dreamer. Courtney Dicmas. 2018. Kane Miller.

    Lemur DreamerLouis the lemur, who lives on the top floor at 32 Pebbly Lane, is a sleepwalker. During nightly wanderings, he usually just “snoozed” around the other apartments and then “snuffled” back to bed. Then one night, Louis snoozes down a clothesline and snuffles into traffic. What is he dreaming? Where is he going? His concerned neighbors follow him until he runs out of places to sleepwalk. They shout, “WAKE UP, LOUIS!!!” just as Louis, who is still fast asleep, falls off the edge of a cliff. His friends form a chain and pull him safely back up onto the cliff. As Louis tells them about the amazing adventure he was having in his dream, he realizes his sleepwalking is causing a lot of trouble. Not to worry. The next day, the neighbors give Louis the perfect gift to keep him safe no matter where his dreams take him.

    Old MacDonald Has a Boat. Steve Goetz. Ill. Eda Kaban. 2018. Chronicle.

    Old MacDonald Had a BoatOld MacDonald had a farm, and on that farm he had a truck (which readers learned about in Old MacDonald Had a Truck (2016)). And on that farm he had a wife, who drives the truck into the farmyard with a boat shell and supplies. Old MacDonald, Mrs. Mac, and a crew of farm animals get to work and very soon—with a lot of E-I-E-I-O-ing and buzzing of saws, banging of hammers, shhh-shhing of sandpaper, and rolling on of paint—they have a snazzy boat, the Finnastic. Putting the boat on a trailer and filling the truck with equipment for water play, they all head to the lake for a day of water skiing. “Old MacDonald had a farm / E-I-E-I-O. / And on that farm he had a . . .  / BOAT! / E-I-E-I-TOWWWW!” The colorful, detailed illustrations depicting farm and lake activities make this interactive read-aloud—or sing-aloud—book loads of fun. 

    The Tiptoeing Tiger. Philippa Leathers. 2018. Candlewick.

    The Tiptoeing TigerLittle Tiger’s big brother says he is too small and clumsy to scare anyone. Out to prove him wrong, Little Tiger begins to tiptoe through the forest as quietly as he can. “Tiptoe, tiptoe, tiptoe . . . ROAR!!!” Little Tiger fails at scaring Boar, who says he hears him coming from a mile away; Elephant, who says he’s too small to scare him; and three monkeys in a tree, who just laugh at him. Discouraged but determined, Little Tiger spies an animal he is certain he can scare, a frog jumping into a pond. He creeps up to the water’s edge. “Tiptoe, tiptoe, tiptoe . . . ROAAARR!!!” and at last succeeds. Leather’s depiction of an ever-so-cute Little Tiger tiptoeing through the forest in her digitally combined pencil-and-watercolor illustrations will have young children mimicking Little Tiger’s movements and roaring at storytime.

    Ages 9–11

    Lucky Enough (Fred Bowen Sports Stories). Fred Bowen. 2018. Peachtree.

    Lucky EnoughTrey credits his good luck charm, a piece of dark blue sea glass he found while beachcombing with his grandmother, for securing him a coveted position on the under-thirteen baseball travel team, the Ravens. With his lucky charm in his uniform pocket, and his superstitious routine on the field, things are going well. His batting and fielding stats keep getting better—until the day he loses the sea glass. Trey’s desperate search for it fails, and his performance slumps. It takes extra practice sessions with the coach, conversations with the groundskeeper, and a reminder from a family member that, “The harder you work the luckier you get,” to make Trey realize that he is “lucky enough.”  As he does in his other books in the Sports Story series, Bowen includes a “The Real Story” section related to the story, which adds an interesting history of superstitions surrounding the game and superstitions and jinxes that famous baseball players have believed in.

    Uncle Shawn and Bill and the Almost Entirely Unplanned Adventure. A. L. Kennedy. Ill. Gemma Correll. 2018. Kane Miller.

    Uncle Shawn and BillBadger Bill has been kidnapped by nasty sisters Ethel and Maude McGloone, who plan to have him box as Battling Bob Badger in a series of matches with three ferocious dogs: Ripper, Cracker, and Snapper. Bill isn’t the only one in need of rescue. Four llamas—Brian, Carlos, Guinevere, and Ginalolobrigida—get a free trip to  McGlorious McGetaway at McGloone Llama Paradise after winning a poetry contest advertised in The Lima Llama Informer. Now, held captive behind an electric fence at the McGloone Farm, the llamas are nearly bald from being overly sheared by Farmer McGloone’s wife, who uses their wool to knit luxury llama wool socks, and they’re worried about becoming other McGloone’s Luxury Products—such as llama pies and llama skin wallets. In the nick of time, Uncle Shawn comes with a rescue plan (well, actually an almost entirely unplanned plan), which involves a lot of dancing and a mole friend. Correll’s clever black-and-white cartoons add to the fun of reading this laugh-out-loud story.

    Ages 12–14

    The Ambrose Deception. Emily Ecton. Ill. Gilbert Ford. 2018. Disney-Hyperion.

    Ambrose DeceptionThree Chicago students—Melissa Burris from Morton Middle School, Wilf Samson from Sutherland Academy, and Bondi Johnson at Noyes Central—unexpectedly find themselves invited to compete in the Kaplin/Baron Academic Scholarship contest. To win the $10,000 scholarship, a contestant must solve three cryptic clues to identify Chicago landmarks. They must also sign a contract specifying that they will abide by the contest rules, including no discussion of clues with other competitors or outside elements. Each is provided with a cell phone, a camera, a debit card, and a driver. The three contestants take very different approaches to solving the clues, but as the organizers appear to be taking advantage of the rule about their right to alter the rules, they become increasingly suspicious about the contest. Middle-grade readers will enjoy following along with Melissa, Wilf, and Bondi as they decide to break the rules and work as a team to untangle the real mystery behind the Ambrose deception.

    Black Panther, the Young Prince. Roland L. Smith. 2018. Marvel/Disney.

    Black PantherSmith offers fans of the Marvel Universe an origin story of the Black Panther. When the remote, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda is threatened with invasion, ruling Black Panther, King of Wakanda, sends 12-year-old T’Challa, the young prince and future Black Panther, and his best friend, M’Baku, to Chicago for safety (and to learn about the outside world). With a false identity as an exchange student named T. Charles and a ring and a suit made of the super strong metal Vibranium to be used only in the case of extreme emergency, T’Challa must navigate life as a student at South Side Middle School. He makes some friends but also an enemy, Gemini Jones. As strange things occurring on campus turn sinister, T’Challa is challenged to uncover Gemini’s involvement with ancient dark magic in Chicago and its ties to events in Wakanda. This fast-paced adventure ends with classmate Sheila asking T’Challa, “When’s the next mission?”

    Ages 15+

    Love and Other Train Wrecks. Leah Konen. 2018. Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins.

    Love & Other Train WrecksTwo strangers meet while traveling on a train to Hudson, New York. High school senior Ammy West from Roanoake, Virginia, is headed to her father’s commitment ceremony (a “wedding non-wedding” because her parents’ divorce hasn’t been finalized). Noah Adler, a freshman at Hunter College, is headed to Hudson with hopes of wooing back his ex-girlfriend with roses and dinner at a swanky restaurant on the anniversary of their first date. Their first impressions of each other are not good, but when the train breaks down during a snowstorm and no one knows when travel will resume, the two teens decide to leave the train together and set out for a bus station a mile away. As they begin their trek through the snow, however, they head in the wrong direction. This is just the first in a series of misadventures that result in the missing of their special occasions and not arriving in Hudson until the next day. Readers will not be surprised by the development of a mutual, if conflicted, romantic attraction—until a train wreck of an unsettling connection between Ammy and Noah is revealed.

    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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    New Year, New Releases

    By Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | Jan 29, 2018

    As reviewers, we eagerly anticipate reading the early releases in the new year. The books that we review in this week’s column suggest that 2018 will be another terrific year for children’s and young adult literature and that readers can look forward to a year of great books from which to choose. Happy reading to all in 2018!

    Ages 4–8

    Girl Running: Bobbi Gibb and the Boston Marathon. Annette Bay Pimentel. Ill. Micha Archer. 2018. Nancy Paulsen/Penguin.

    Girl RunningBobbi Gibb loved to run, and she was fast. After watching the Boston Marathon one year, she begins serious long-distance training. Her requests for an application to participate in the Boston Marathon, however, is rejected. Organizers respond, “Women are not physiologically able to run 26 miles and furthermore the rules do not allow it.” Determined to prove them wrong, Bobbi does run the Boston Marathon by hiding near the starting line and sneaking onto the course to join the racers. Rules being rules, she finishes unofficially. “Bobbi’s first race is over, but marathoning for women has begun.” The inclusion of a border of the route with mile markers and elevation indicators along the bottom of the colorful illustrations highlights the difficulty of the race. Back matter includes an afterword on Gibb’s 1966 race and the Boston Marathon and a bibliography.
    —CA

    I Am a Cat. Galia Bernstein. 2018. Abrams.

    I Am a CAtA green-eyed domestic cat introduces himself to Lion, Puma, Panther, Tiger, and Cheetah saying, “Hello, my name is Simon. I am a cat. Just like you!” They all laugh at Simon and point out that he can’t be a cat because he is nothing like them. Tiger even labels him a small, gray rat. Definitely not a cat. In turn, the big cats describe their special characteristics (spots, stripes, or a mane; roaring; living in jungles). When Simon questions what makes them cats since they are all so different, Lion points out what they have in common (small, perky ears, flat noses, long whiskers and tails, sharp teeth and claws, and night-vision eyes), and Simon protests, “I have all of those things. Only smaller.” Finally, all the big cats agree with him, and Simon spends the day with his new family “pouncing and prowling, prancing and playing, like cats of all sizes do.” Bernstein’s artwork (created digitally with applied hand-painted textures) boldly portrays the characteristics of the members of the Felidae family in this picture book, which is a good read-aloud choice.
    —NB

    One Fun Day with Lewis Carroll: A Celebration of Wordplay and a Girl Named Alice. Kathleen Krull. Ill. Júlia Sardà, 2018. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    One Fun DayLewis Carroll was an expert at making any day “frabjous.” Once, while boating on the river, he told a girl named Alice a tale about a girl named Alice who tumbles down a rabbit hole. Kathleen Krull peppers her text with Carroll’s nonsense words and phrases, such as “slithy” (a combination of slimy and lithe), “realing and writhing” (a variation on the subjects of reading and writing) and “un-birthday” (any day other than one’s birthday).All the words and ideas invented or adapted by Carroll are color coded in the text to indicate the source—Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, or The Hunting of the Snark—and defined in a glossary. Júlia Sardà’s whimsical double-page illustrations playfully mix real people and fictional characters, such as the White Rabbit, the Mock Turtle, and the Lobster Quadrille. One Fun Day with Lewis Carroll is the perfect picture book for encouraging children to read Carroll’s fantasies, to incorporate some of his language into their conversations, and perhaps to coin some words on their own.
    —CA

    When Sophie Thinks She Can’t . . . Molly Bang. 2018. Blue Sky/Scholastic.

    When Sophie Thinks She Can'tAfter Sophie can’t complete a tangram at home, she thinks, “I can’t do ANYTHING!” Even after her teacher talks to the class about exercising their brains to become smarter by doing math puzzles, Sophie thinks she can’t—until her teacher says, “You haven’t figured it out … YET… Keep trying, and you will.” Finally solving the puzzle, Sophie realizes, “I did it! I can do it again!” Back home, she shares the magical word “YET” with her frustrated father, and they fix a stubborn cabinet door together. Double-page, brightly colored illustrations, outlined in thick primary colors, complement the story's positive message. Front matter includes information about tangrams, and back matter describes growth mindset teaching, a technique teachers can use to help students master new learning. Young children will also enjoy Bang’s two other books about young Sophie: When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry . . . (1999) and When Sophie’s Feelings Are Really, Really Hurt (2015).
    —NB

    Ages 9–11

    Blacksmith’s Song. Elizabeth Van Steenwyk. Ill. Anna Rich. 2018. Peachtree.

    Blacksmith's SongIn this imagined history picture book, set during the days of the Underground Railroad, Pa (a blacksmith and slave) hammers out rhythmic cryptic messages daily to runaway slaves while also awaiting the signal for him and his family to join the travelers. One morning, Pa becomes ill and can’t go to work. His 9-year-old son, who has been secretly practicing, takes on the responsibility of pounding out the “blacksmith’s song” until, at last, it is time for them to leave, too. Somber, muted oil paintings complement this emotionally charged storyline. Back matter provides a note on the inspiration for the story as well as historical background.
    —NB  

    The Serpent’s Secret (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #1). Sayantani DasGupta. 2018. Scholastic.

    The Serpent's SecretOn Kiranmala’s 12th birthday, her overprotective parents vanish, a rakkhosh demon attacker her New Jersey home and tries to eat her, and she discovers she is an interdimensional Indian princess thrust into a hero’s journey to save her family. Rescued from the rakkhosh by two princes and whisked away to a fantastical dimension where she meets birth parents she never knew about (the Moon Queen and the Serpent King), Kiran uncovers unknown magic within herself to use in fighting enemies she encounters. Kiran’s quirky first-person narration will sweep readers into one near-death adventure after another as she works to save the beloved mother and father of her childhood. An author’s note describes Indian folktales and stories referenced in this new series.
    —NB

    Ages 12–14

    Facing Frederick: The Life of Frederick Douglass, a Monumental American Man. Tonya Bolden. 2018. Abrams.

    Facing FrederickIn this well-researched biography, Tonya Bolden chronicles the life and accomplishments of Frederick Douglass (1818–1895), focusing on decisions that shaped his life and the history of the United States. In her engaging and accessible narration, Bolden clearly communicates how Douglass used his personal experiences with slavery and racism—what he called the “twin-monsters of darkness”—to enhance his effectiveness as a voice for the anti-slavery movement and the rights for black people and women. A wealth of quotes and captioned archival photographs, drawings, and documents and insets of quotes contribute to the readers understanding of Frederick Douglass, a writer, orator, abolitionist, suffragist, statesman, diplomat—“a monumental American man.” Back matter includes an author’s note, timeline, source notes on quotations, selected sources, image credits, and index.
    —CA

    Martin Rising: Requiem for a King. Andrea Davis Pinkney. Ill. Brian Pinkney. 2018. Scholastic.

    Martin RisingAndrea Davis Pinkney’s lyrical poetry and Brian Pinkney’s stunning impressionistic illustrations create a moving “requiem” for Martin Luther King, Jr., which focuses on the final months of his life, from a family celebration of his 39th birthday on January 15, 1968, to his assassination on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee, where he had been speaking and leading rallies and marches in support of the garbage collector’s strike against the city’s discriminatory pay policy. The final poem, “Rejoice the Legacy” ends with “Can a Dream ever die? / A burst of sun replies: / His life well lived for peace and good. / Martin’s spirit—still alive! / And with love, we all shall rise,” an expressive reminder of why we celebrate Martin Luther King Day each year on January 15. Back matter includes reflections by the author and the illustrator on their creation of Martin Rising, a “Now Is the Time” section providing historical context, a time line, and a bibliography.
    —CA

    Ages 15+

    A Land of Permanent Goodbyes. Atia Abawi. 2018. Philomel/Penguin.

    A Land of Permanent GoodbyesTeenager Tareq and the remaining members of his once-large family, consisting now of only his father, cousin, and 5-year-old sister, run for their lives from their war-torn country after their neighborhood is bombed in the ongoing Syrian conflict. Tareq grows up quickly as horrifying events befall him and his family: being threatened by Daesh fighters as they escape from Syria to Turkey and witness a public beheading; being separated from family members during the flight; surviving a treacherous raft trip from Turkey to Greece, in which many perish; the kidnapping of his sister; and fearing for the lives of his family at every turn of their traumatic escape. Tareq learns that although many of his countrymen put money above humanity, “helpers” from many countries stand in the gap to help them survive. Abawi, a foreign news correspondent, born a refugee in West Germany to Afghan parents fleeing a brutal war, brings insight and sensitivity to the plight of the refugee through the authentic storyline and the reflections of “Destiny,” who serves as the omniscient narrator. A glossary is included.
    —NB

    Votes for Women!: American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot. Winifred Conkling. 2018. Algonquin.

    Votes for WomenWith a strong storytelling voice, Winifred Conkling offers readers a captivating account of the long-fought battle for women’s suffrage in the United States. Drawing from letter, journals, speeches, newspaper articles, and documents, Conkling focuses on the compelling personal stories of leaders in the suffrage movement—from Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to Carrie Chapman Catt and Alice Paul—and key events—from the 1848 Woman’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, to the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920. Back matter includes an “In Her Own Words” section on key primary sources, a time line, a bibliography, chapter-by-chapter notes on quotations, and an index. Votes for Women! is an important, inspiring, and timely book.
    —CA

    Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English from 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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    Books to Keep

    By Carolyn Angus
     | Jan 22, 2018

    I just completed my annual task of going through the many books I’ve read during the year and deciding which ones I’ll add to my personal collection. Since moving into a tiny apartment four years ago, my goal has been to keep only 10 books each year. Here are my 2017 list of “books to keep,” with notes on why I chose them. I cheated a bit by including a few pairings of a chosen book with other new releases.

    Ages 4–8

    The Alphabet Thief. Bill Richardson. Ill. Roxanna Bikadoroff. 2017. Groundwood/House of Anansi.

    The Alphabet ThiefIn the dark of night, the Alphabet Thief creeps through the city creating havoc as she steals letters from words in alphabetical order. As the letter “A” is stolen, boats become bots, fairs become firs, and coats become cots—and so on through the alphabet. The devious Alphabet Thief handles the Q-with-U predicament by removing them as a pair, so queasy is easy and squash becomes sash. Having nearly reached the end of the alphabet, the Alphabet Thief seems unstoppable until the red-headed narrator, who has been following her, makes slingshots with the letter Y and fires Zs at the thief. “A halo of Z’s encircles her head. / Such snoring as never been heard. / When I open her sack, the letters spring back / And hurry on home to their words.” The clever story in rhyme and playful ink-and-watercolor illustrations depicting word transformations make this small book one to add to my collection of alphabet books.

    City Mouse, Country Mouse. Maggie Rudy. 2017. Godwin/Henry Holt.

    City Mouse, Country MouseOn a visit to the country, city mouse William Gray makes friends with Tansy Mouse and invites her to visit the city. “It’s so exciting! I could never live anywhere else!” Although she enjoys all there is to see and do in the city, Tansy is homesick and returns to the country. The city is too crowded and noisy for Tansy and the country is too quiet for William, but they miss each other. Their solution: settling in a small “halfway town,” where they live next door to each other and are close enough to both the city and the country to make visits. “And Tansy and Will, the best of friends, lived mousily ever after.” The illustrations for this retelling of one of my favorite Aesop’s fable are fascinating. Tansy, Will, and other characters are constructed with felt and positioned in sets created with found materials to create colorful, imaginatively-detailed scenes that are then photographed.

    Little Fox in the Forest. Stephanie Graegin. 2017. Schwartz & Wade/Random House.

    Little Fox in the ForestBlue-toned panels in this wordless book show a young girl selecting a stuffed fox as her old and treasured item to take to school for show-and-tell. While she is playing on the swings at recess, a bright orange young fox sneaks up and runs off with the beloved toy fox. In a pursuit through the forest, she and a friend make inquiries of various animals (shown as colorful images in the blue scenes) and eventually come upon a fairy tale village of personified animals (shown in a brightly colored, double-page spread). Upon reaching the home of Little Fox, she is reunited with her toy fox—but not for long, as the ending panels reveal a surprise exchange. Little Fox in the Forest is my favorite wordless book of the year. There is more to discover with each rereading of the pictures in this beautifully crafted story.

    Ages 9–11

    Books! Books! Books!: Exploring the Amazing Collection of the British Library. Mick Manning & Brita Granström. 2017. Candlewick.

    Books Books BooksWith a “Welcome to the greatest library in the world!” Manning and Grandström take readers on a tour of the British Library, the national library of the United Kingdom. Double-page spreads of watercolor-and-digital collage art incorporating photographic images of works from the library’s archives and a narrative presented in an informative, docent-like, conversational tone (with humorous touches) provide an engaging and accessible peek into the British Library’s treasure of books, documents, manuscripts, and more. Back matter includes notes on the 21 featured treasures, including the handmade St. Cuthbert Gospel, the oldest surviving book produced in Europe; the Magna Carta; the First Folio of William Shakespeare; and the original manuscript of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  I am interested in the history of books and I’d love to have the opportunity to explore the British Library, so I’m keeping Books! Books! Books!

    Lesser Spotted Animals: The Coolest Creatures You’ve Never Heard Of. Martin Brown. 2017. David Fickling/Scholastic.

    Lesser Spotted AnimalsIn the introduction, Brown sets the tone for this book with his “good-bye to the gnu and cherrio to the cheetah.” Each mammal (long-tailed dunnart, onager, gaur, zebra duiker, and 17 more) is given a heading with common name and an interest-catching identification (for example, “CUBON SOLENODON Shaggy Caribbean insectivore with a toxic bite”), a realistic portrait, and information about its characteristics and behavior. An inset provides information about size, diet, location, conservation status, and other trivia. The former science teacher in me loves finding books that I wish I had available when I was teaching. Thislively, informative book about lesser known mammals is also an interest-catching introduction about threats to the diversity of life on Earth.   

    Ages 12–14

    Gods and Thunder: A Graphic Novel of Old Norse Myths. Carl Bowen, Michael Dahl & Louise Simonson. Ill. Eduardo Garcia, Tod Smith & Rex Lokus. 2017. Capstone.

    Gods and ThunderThis introduction to Norse mythology in an accessible full-color graphic novel format includes four tales. In “Thor and Loki,” Thor (the son of Odin) and Loki (a sly, shape-shifting giant who has been raised with Odin’s children) journey into Jütunheim, the land of the giants. In “Thor vs. the Giants,” the thunder god outwits three giants in epic battles. “The Death of Baldur” tells the story of the tragic death of the beloved god of light, the son of Odin and Frigg. “Twilight of the Gods” chronicles the events of Ragnarök, the final battle that brings an end to the Nine Worlds. A glossary (with a pronunciation guide) is helpful in keeping track of the characters, places, and events in these ancient tales. I discovered Gods and Thunder while immersed in educating myself about graphic novels this year. It was the perfect book to get me prepped for reading Kevin Crossley-Holland’s Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor, and Loki (2017) and Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology (2017), two other books I’m adding to my collection.

    The Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals. Joel Sartore. 2017. National Geographic.

    The Photo ArkThis pictorial encyclopedia showcasing the diversity of animals on our planet features portraits of more than 400 animals. Working with captive animals, Joel Sartore photographed each species against a black or white background under controlled lighting to bring out details. Each photo is captioned with the common and the scientific name of the animal and a notation of the species’ conservation status. Inserts on eight “heroes,” conservationists acting to protect the Earth’s biodiversity, add interest. Back matter includes notes on the making of the photographs and National Geographic’s Photo Ark Project. This book goes right next to Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures (2017), which includes a center double-page gatefold featuring National Geographic photographer Sartore’s animal portraits and “The Chorus of Creatures,” a poem by Kwame Alexander which celebrates connections between humans and the world’s wild animals.

    Ages 15+

    La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust #1). Philip Pullman. 2017. Alfred A. Knopf/Random House.

    The Book of DustSet 10 years earlier in the parallel world of Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, Lyra Belacqua is a baby under the care of nuns in a priory on the Thames. In a devastating flood, 11-year-old Malcolm Polstead rescues Baby Lyra from the destroyed priory in his canoe, La Belle Sauvage. Swept far away in the storm, Malcolm faces a long and perilous journey to get Lyra back to safety in Oxford with the aim of securing sanctuary for her at Jordan College. I have been a Philip Pullman fan from the early 80s and enjoyed reading all of his books. I like to reread earlier books in a series before reading the latest book, so I’ll be reading La Belle Sauvage again before the second book in the Book of Dust series is published.

    Tool of War (Ship Breaker #3). Paolo Bacigalupi. 2017. Little, Brown.

    Tool of WarIn this third book of master storyteller Bacigalupi’s post-apocalyptic series, Tool, a genetically engineered half man and half beast “augment” designed to be a fiercely obedient and loyal “killing machine,” has learned to suppress his inbred submissiveness to his masters. Aware of the potential for Tool to turn on his creators, General Caroa is using all of the powerful Mercier Corporation’s military resources to locate and destroy Tool, who is now set on a path of not only survival, but also revenge. Bacigalupi is the author who got me hooked on reading science fiction, and so this book joins my copies of the first two books in this series of dystopian thrillers: Ship Breaker (2011) and The Drowned Cities (2013).

    Victoria: Portrait of a Queen. Catherine Reef. 2017. Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    VictoriaWith a masterful storytelling voice, Reef offers readers a fascinating biography of Victoria, who became Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1837, at the age of 18, and ruled until her death in 1901. The engaging narrative, enriched by a wealth of illustrations (including full-color formal portraits and archival paintings) provides a vivid portrait of the long-reigning queen and a history of the era in which she lived. Back matter includes a list of British monarchs, Queen Victoria’s family tree, source notes, an extensive bibliography, picture credits, and an index. Victoria stays on my bookshelf because of my interest in the reign of Queen Victoria but also because the book is such a wonderful model of a well-researched and well-designed biography. Victoria: Portrait of a Queen is a book I’ll enjoy read again and looking at all the archival visual material. As a bonus, the bibliography will serve as a guide for learning more about the Victorian Era.

    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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    Looking Back at 2017 Fiction

    By Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | Jan 15, 2018

    We both have read extensively in all subgenres of fiction during the year and, like others who do so, we each have our favorites. Coming up with a list of only 20 books that the two of us could agree upon was a challenge. Here is our notable fiction of 2017 list. 

    Ages 4–8

    Big Cat, Little Cat. Elisha Cooper. 2017. Roaring Brook.  

    Big Cat, Little CatA little black cat comes to live with a big white cat, who shows it “when to eat, / when to drink, / where to go, / how to be, / and when to rest.” Years later, the white cat “had to go … / and didn’t come back.” Loss is hard, but one day a little white cat comes to live with the now big black cat, who shows it “what to do.” A simple text and bold black-and-white illustrations deliver a gentle message about friendship and the cycle of life.

    A Greyhound, a Groundhog. Emily Jenkins. Ill. Chris Appelhans. 2017. Schwartz & Wade/Random House.

    A Greyhound, A Groundhog“A hound. / A round hound. / A greyhound. / A hog. / A round hog. / A groundhog.” A greyhound awakes from a nap and a groundhog pops out of its hole to romp “around and around and around / and around!” Exhausted, they settle down together to rest. Full-of-motion illustrations match the rhythmic mix-up of words in this tongue twister of a tale.

    A Perfect Day. Lane Smith. 2017. Roaring Brook.

    A Perfect DayIt is a perfect day in Bert’s backyard as Cat lounges among daffodils, Dog sits in the wading pool, and Bert fills the bird feeder for Chickadee and gives Squirrel a corncob. It was a perfect dayfor them until rambunctious Bear lumbers into the yard, and they must scatter as he takes over their perfect place and activities and makes a perfect day for himself. With a playfully repetitive text and colorful mixed-media artwork, Smith explores different points of view as to what makes a perfect day.

    The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! Carmen Agra Deedy. Ill. Eugene Yelchin. 2017. Scholastic.

    RoosterAfter repeated efforts to silence the rooster’s Kee-kee-ree-Kee! fail, Don Pepe, the mayor of La Paz, threatens to make soup of him. Hearing the rooster’s declaration that he sings for those who dare not sing or have forgotten how to sing, the villagers take up his song and their chorus of Kee-kee-ree-Kee! drives Don Pepe out of town. Yelchin’s sunny mixed-media illustrations are as joyful and humorous as Deedy’s allegorical tale.

    When’s My Birthday? Julie Fogliano. Ill. Christian Robinson. 2017. Neal Porter/Roaring Brook.

    When's My Birthday?All the excitement surrounding a young girl’s anticipation of her birthday is joyfully expressed in Fogliano’s rhythmic verse (“When’s my birthday? / Where’s my birthday? / How many days until / my birthday?") and Robinson’s colorful acrylic and cut-paper illustrations featuring details of the celebration of this ever-so-important “happy happy” day in a young child’s year.

    Wolf in the Snow. Matthew Cordell. 2017. Feiwel and Friends.

    Wolf in the SnowIn this mostly wordless book about courage and kindness, a girl in a red jacket, walking home from school through the woods, finds a lost wolf pup and returns him to his pack during a blizzard. In turn, the grateful wolf pack helps in the now lost and exhausted girl’s rescue by her mother and dog. Cordell’s few words (“bark!” “screech!” “huff,” “sink,” “whine,” and “HOOOWWWLL!”) accompany expressive pen-and-ink-with-watercolor illustrations in a wintry palette.

    Ages 9–11

    Beyond the Bright Sea. Lauren Wolk. 2017. Dutton/Penguin.

    Beyond the Bright SeaThe only life that 12-year-old Crow has known is living on Cuttyhunk (one of the Elizabeth Islands off Cape Cod, Massachusetts) with Osh, the man who rescued her as a newborn from the sea. In this historical novel set in 1925, Crow yearns to know where she is from and who her parents were. Discovering that she came from neighboring Penikese, which had been a leper colony, and exploring the island in search of answers about her background put Crow and the people she loves in danger as she learns the history of her family and the people who lived on the island.

    Harry Miller’s Run. David Almond. Ill. Salvatore Rubbino. 2017. Candlewick.

    Harry Miller's RunAlmond uses a working-class accent in the narration as elderly Harry Miller tells 11-year-old Liam about the 13-mile run he and two mates made from Newcastle to the seaside on a hot summer day in 1938. While recalling details of the memorable run, Harry also imparts words of wisdom regarding a life well lived. “Me great achievement is that I’ve been happy, that I’ve never been nowt but happy.”

    It All Comes Down to This. Karen English. 2017. Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    It All Comes Down to ThisShy 12-year-old Sophie (budding author and aspiring actor)and her parents are the only black family in their affluent Los Angeles neighborhood. Sophie has made just one friend, her parents are headed for divorce, her sister is leaving for college, and her stern housekeeper does not like her. As Sophie faces personal challenges set against the 1965 historical milieu of the Civil Rights Movement and the Watts Riots, she encounters unexpected kindnesses and also develops courage.

    Patina (Track #2). Jason Reynolds. 2017. Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    PatinaTwelve-year-old African-American Patina Jones, one of the four newbies (Ghost, Sunny, Lu, and Patina) on the elite youth track team, the Defenders, loves to run—and to win. She knows that she “ain’t no junk” (as she constantly reminds herself), and she’s out to prove this on the track team, at preppy Chester Academy, and in family relationships.

    Ages 12–14

    Crossing Ebenezer Creek. Tanya Bolden. 2017. Bloomsbury.

    Crossing Ebenezer CreekSeeking freedom, Mariah and others enslaved on the Chaney plantation join General Sherman’s 14th Army Corps’ march through Georgia. As a relationship grows between Mariah and Caleb, a free black man working with the corps, she begins to dream of their future together. “Now the struggles of the march were hitched to striving for a new life.” An author’s note provides a context for this story of a little-known event of the Civil War, the tragedy of “the betrayal at Ebenezer Creek” on December 9, 1864.

    A Face Like Glass. Frances Hardinge. 2017. Amulet/Abrams.

    A Face Like GlassWhen 12-year-old Neverfall (who has been locked away for seven years by Cheesemaster Grandible and believes she must wear a velvet mask to hide her ugly face) finds a way out of the cheese tunnels in the underground city of Caverna, her “face like glass,” which shows all her thoughts and feelings, puts her in danger as she becomes a pawn of the Court and corrupt ruling families of Caverna.

    Flying Lessons & Other Stories.Ellen Oh (Ed.). 2017. Crown/Random House.

    Flying LessonsShort stories, written by ten talented authors (Kwame Alexander, Kelly J. Baptist, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jaqueline Woodson) introduce a diverse group of characters who want to belong and to be accepted for who they are. Back matter includes an “About We Need Diverse Books” section and biographical notes on the contributors.

    La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust #1). Philip Pullman. 2017. Alfred A. Knopf/Random House.

    The Book of DustIn this first book of Pullman’s new series, set 10 years earlier in the parallel world of the His Dark Materials trilogy, Lyra Belacqua is a baby under the care of nuns in a priory on the Thames. During a devastating flood, 11-year-old Malcolm Polstead rescues Baby Lyra from the destroyed priory in his canoe, La Belle Sauvage. Swept away in the storm, Malcolm faces a long, perilous journey to get Lyra back to safety in Oxford with the aim of securing sanctuary for her at Jordan College.

    Piecing Me Together. Renée Watson. 2017. Bloomsbury.

    Piecing Me TogetherAs part of her scholarship to prestigious St. Francis High School on the other side of Portland, Oregon, from where she lives, African-American Jade must participate in a mentoring program called Women to Women although she wonders what her mentor, who appears to have many challenges of her own, can teach her. In learning to appreciate her identity, Jade discovers she wants to develop her talent for collage art and to help people rather than be considered someone who needs help.

    Refugee. Alan Gratz. 2017. Scholastic.

    RefugeeThree young people from different places and times—Josef, a Jewish boy in Nazi Germany in 1938; Isabel, a girl living near Havana under the dictatorship of Fidel Castro in 1994; and Mahmoud, living in war-torn Aleppo, Syria, in 2015—have the same goal: to flee their homelands with their families. This fast-paced, action-packed adventure story is also a compelling historical exploration of the plight of immigrants who take incredible journeys to survive, sustained by the quest for freedom and the hope of reaching a place in which their families can rebuild their lives.

    Ages 15+

    Jane Unlimited. Kristen Cashore. 2017. Kathy Dawson/Penguin.

    Jane, UnlimitedFulfilling a promise made to her adventurous Aunt Magnolia, her guardian who recently died, to visit Tu Revien if invited, 18-year-old Jane accompanies Kiran Thrash to the family’s island mansion and, thus, begins her heroine’s journey. Thrust into the midst of eccentric houseguests, she uncovers mysteries (art thefts, spies, and kidnapping) and unexpected truths in this five genre mash-up that turns everything Jane thought she knew about her world and the universe upside down.

    Long Way Down. Jason Reynolds. 2017. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    Long Way DownWhen his brother Shawn is shot and killed, 15-year-old Will knows the rules of the neighborhood: No Crying. No Snitching. Seek Revenge. Taking Shawn’s gun, he heads to the elevator to descend seven floors to the street. As the elevator stops at each floor, a different ghost from Will’s past, each a victim of gun violence, joins him and asks some hard questions. By the time he reaches the ground floor, has Will changed his plan to follow the rules? The ambiguous ending—“YOU COMING?— of Reynold’s beautifully-crafted free verse novel is startling and thought provoking.

    Soldier Boy. Kelly Hutton. 2017. Farrar Straus Giroux.

    Soldier BoyIn 1989, at age 14, Ricky was abducted by Joseph Kony’s rebel army in a raid on his Ugandan village. Hutton gives a vivid account of the brutal training and horrors of combat missions that Ricky endured and survived over four years, while he remained determined to escape and return home. Interwoven into the narrative are chapters set in 2006, in which fictional 11-year-old Samuel, who is recuperating from battlefield wounds, distrusts his caregivers and the stranger (Ricky Richard Anywar, founder of Friends of Orphans), who promises to help him return home. An afterword by Anywar provides information about the challenges faced by former child soldiers and the work of Friends of Orphans.

    Who Killed Christopher Goodman? Allan Wolf. 2017. Candlewick.

    GoodmanTeen Christopher Goodman was killed during Deadwood Days in Goldsburg, Virginia, in 1979. Doc and Squib, who discover Christopher’s body on a morning cross-country training run, as well as other classmates who interacted with Christopher during the last night of the festival, are plagued by thoughts that they may have played a role in his murder. Six narrators (including the killer) tell the story, which unfolds in poetry, prose, and play script entries. Memorial poems for Christopher Goodman written by classmates for their advanced literacy studies class provide the perfect ending to this tragic story, which is based on a true crime.

    Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English from 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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    Looking Back at 2017 Nonfiction

    By Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | Jan 08, 2018

    In looking back at the bounty of nonfiction (including informational books, biographies, and poetry) published in 2017, we have considered the diversity of reading interests of children and young adults and the identification of outstanding trade books with curriculum connections as well as our favorites among the many books we have read this year. Here are our picks of the best nonfiction of 2017.

    Ages 4–8

    All Ears, All Eyes. Richard Jackson. Ill. Katherine Tillotson. 2017. Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    All Ears, All Eyes A spare lyrical text and beautiful impressionistic illustrations invite readers to listen to the sounds and look closely at the sights of the forest from twilight to dark of night. With a mix of questions, rhyming phrases, and onomatopoeia, the gentle text reads aloud well. “What surprises? / What sings? / Crick-crick-crickets / chirring / in the thick-thick-thickets / Whoo–whoo.”

    Balderdash!: John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books. Michelle Markel. Ill. Nancy Carpenter. 2017. Chronicle.

    Balderdash!Book lover John Newbery believed that reading should be a treat for children, and his first book for children, A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, was just that. Newbery’s success in publishing delightful books for young people earned him the title of “Father of Children’s Literature.” Detailed illustrations set the scene and match the wit of this engaging biography.

    Grand Canyon. Jason Chin. 2017. Neal Porter/Roaring Brook.

    Grand CanyonThis informational picture book, in which a father and daughter explore the Grand Canyon, includes sidebars detailing the geology and ecology of the canyon and borders picturing its rock strata, fauna, and flora. The illustrations showcase the majesty of the canyon. The book ends with a double gatefold showing the two explorers overlooking “the greatest canyon on Earth.”

    I’m Just No Good at Rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Adults. Chris Harris. Ill. Lane Smith. 2017. Little, Brown.

    No Good at RhymingAs the blurb on the book jacket flap promises, this is a “radically INVENTIVE, ABSURDLY FUNNY (and a little bit NAUGHTY) collection of wildly witty words (aka poetry).” The verbal and visual humor of this anthology of more than 100 poems on crazy topics, such as a unipede that is “So sick and tired . . . / of hoppin’!” and an island where everyone is named Toby, is laugh-out-loud delightful.

    Rivers of Sunlight: How the Sun Moves Water Around the Earth. (Sunlight Series). Molly Bang & Penny Chisholm. Ill. Molly Bang. 2017. Blue Sky/Scholastic.

    Rivers of SunlightWith expressive text and stunning illustrations, Bang and Chisholm present an accessible explanation of the role the sun plays in the water cycle. The text, narrated by the sun, ends with a call for readers to do their part to use water wisely and keep it clean.

    The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid. Jeanette Winter. 2017. Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster.

    The World is Not a RectangleWinter’s picture book biography introduces Zaha Hadid (1950–2016), an Iraqi-born, British-educated architect, whose childhood interests in the natural world influenced her innovative and controversial architectural designs. Though her early designs for structures largely remained unbuilt, her imaginative designs are now buildings all over the world.

    Ages 911

    Before She Was Harriet. Lesa Cline-Ransome. Ill. James E. Ransome. 2017. Holiday House.

    Before She Was HarrietA dramatic cumulative poem and expressive paintings present periods of the life of Harriet Tubman as suffragist, Union Army spy, Underground Railroad conductor, slave in Maryland, and Araminta, “a young girl / taught by her father / to read / the woods / and the stars at night / readying / for the day / she’d leave behind / slavery / along with her name / and pick a new one / Harriet.”

    Her Right Foot. Dave Eggers. Ill. Shawn Harris. 2017. Chronicle.

    Her Right FootThis beautifully-crafted book is more than just a history of the Statue of Liberty. By focusing on the statue’s raised right foot (“This 150-foot woman is on the go!”), Eggers and Harris offer a timely reminder of our country’s history as a nation of immigrants. The Statue of Liberty is not just standing still, she is striding toward the sea to welcome immigrants to the United States of America.

    The Secret Project. Jonah Winter. Ill. Jeanette Winter. 2017. Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster.

    The Secret ProjectSpare text and folk art-style illustrations present a history of the development of the atomic bomb at a remote site in New Mexico in 1943. The project’s secrecy is expressed in the contrast between the colorful desert landscape and the gray-black silhouettes of “shadowy figures” (scientists) working day and night. The countdown for the bomb test is followed by wordless pages showing stages of the explosion—and a black final page.

    Silent Days, Silent Dreams. Allen Say. 2017. Scholastic.

    Silent Days, Silent DreamsSay’s fictional biography of James Castle (18991977) is a tribute to the deaf, autistic, self-taught artist, who created thousands of pieces of art during his silent and solitary lifetime. The extensive author’s note details how Say came to create this “imagined biography of a most original and enigmatic artist” in which he emulates the artist’s style in many of the illustrations.

    The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked, and Found. Martin W. Sandler. 2017. Candlewick.

    The WhydahThe Whydah, which sunk off the coast of Cape Cod during a storm on April 26, 1717, and was found in 1985, is the only pirate shipwreck that has been authenticated. Evidence from marine archaeologists, factual inserts, and Sandler’s research present an accurate representation of the lives of pirates. Back matter includes source notes, a bibliography, and index.

    Ages 12–14

    A Dog in the Cave: The Wolves Who Made Us Human. Kay Frydenborg. 2017. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    A Dog in the CaveIn this exploration of the human-dog relationship, Frydenborg considers how a shared history has influenced the development of both humans and canines. Recent paleontological discoveries show that humans have been living with dogs for thousands of years longer than was previously thought and provide evidence that this close relationship has shaped both species.

    Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights and the Flaws That Affect Us Today. Cynthia Levinson & Sanford Levinson. 2017. Peachtree.

    Fault Lines in the ConstitutionThe Levinsons provide a thought-provoking exploration of the U.S. Constitution, examining the Framers’ “fights” during the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and the Constitution’s “flaws” that have affected the country throughout history. The clear narrative style, supplemented by striking infographics, considers provisions of the Constitution, resulting “big problems,” and connections to present-day issues. The authors end with a grading of the Constitution in terms of its successes and problems based on the goals set out in the Preamble—an overall C+.

    Isaac the Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal’d. Mary Losure. 2017. Candlewick.

    IsaacIn the prologue to this biography of Isaac Newton (16421727), Losure affirms, “He would become the world’s greatest alchemist. He would also (by following his own odd and lonely path) become one of the greatest scientists who ever lived.” The narrative account of Newton’s life and work, illustrated with engravings and pages from Newton’s notebooks and published works, supports this statement.

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

    One Last WordGrimes pairs original poems, written in the “Golden Shovel” format (explained in an introductory “Poetry Form” note), with poems by Harlem Renaissance poets, such as Langston Hughes and Paul Laurence Dunbar, and artwork by inspiring contemporary African American illustrators. Back matter includes biographical notes on the poets and artists, sources, and an index.

    The Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals. Joel Sartore. 2017. National Geographic.

    The Photo ArkThis pictorial encyclopedia showcasing the diversity of animals on our planet features portraits of more than four hundred animals. Each photo is captioned with the common and the scientific name of the animal and a notation of the species’ conservation status. Inserts on eight “heroes,” conservationists acting to protect the Earth’s biodiversity, add interest. Back matter includes notes on the making of the photographs and National Geographic’s Photo Ark Project.

    Sinking the Sultana: A Civil War Story of Imprisonment, Greed, and a Doomed Journey Home. Sally M. Walker. 2017. Candlewick.

    Sinking the SultanaWalker gives an account of the 1865 sinking of a steamboat, the Sultana, on the Mississippi River with over 2,000 passengers aboard, including formerly imprisoned Union soldiers. This engaging history of “the worst maritime disaster in American history” includes diagrams, maps, and archival photographs. Back matter includes an author’s note, glossary, source notes, bibliography, and index.

    Ages 15+

    Alexander Hamilton: Revolutionary. Martha Brockenbrough. 2017. Feiwel and Friends.

    Alexander HamiltonBrockenbrough’s well-researched, in-depth biography of Alexander Hamilton covers his life and the important roles he played in the early history of America, from his illegitimate birth in the West Indies in 1755 to his death in a duel with Aaron Burr in 1804. The extensive back matter includes a family tree, a list of Hamilton’s allies and enemies, short entries on related topics, a time line, a bibliography, source notes, and an index.

    Victoria: Portrait of a Queen. Catherine Reef. 2017. Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    VictoriaWith a masterful storytelling voice, Reef offers readers a fascinating biography of Victoria, who became Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1837—at age 18—and ruled until her death in 1901. The engaging narrative, enriched by a wealth of illustrations (including full-color formal portraits and archival paintings) provides a vivid portrait of the long-reigning queen and a history of the era in which she lived. Back matter includes a list of British monarchs, Queen Victoria’s family tree, source notes, an extensive bibliography, picture credits, and an index.  

    Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brother. Deborah Heligman. 2017. Henry Holt.

    Vincent and TheoThis insightful biography portrays the complicated life-long relationship between artist Vincent van Gogh (18531890) and his younger brother, Theo (18571891). Double-page sketches of the artist’s work at the beginning of the chronologically arranged “galleries” (sections of the book) and an eight-page insert of full-color photographs of Vincent van Gogh’s major works, including a self-portrait (1887) and a portrait of Theo van Gogh (1887), and back matter (time line, author’s note, extensive bibliography, source notes, and index) contribute to this engaging, well-researched tribute to the Van Gogh brothers.

    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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