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    • Children's & YA Literature

    Translations: Picture Books for Everyone

    By Laura Cutler and Carolyn Angus
     | Dec 03, 2018

    Picture books are great resources for engaging students of all ages, and here are some of our favorites from 2018. All translated works, these books are relevant choices for students at different grade levels, not only to enjoy as stories but also to encourage discussion about other languages and cultures and to introduce writers and artists from around the world. 

    Felix. Giovanna Zoboli. Trans. Laura Watkinson. Ill. Simona Mulazzani. 2018. Eerdmans.

    FelixFelix, a domestic grey cat, travels around the world visiting members of the cat family in this whimsical Italian import. He plays with tigers in India, has tea with snow leopards in China, eats blinis with a lynx in Russia and a steak with a puma in a desert of the western U.S., learns how to be a night prowler from a panther in a Brazilian rain forest, and naps with lions in the African savannah. Simona Mulazzani’s portraits of the anthropomorphized cats in their natural environments offer readers a visual around-the-world tour.
    —LC

    The Fishing Lesson. Heinrich Böll. Adapt. Bernard Friot. Ill. Emile Bravo. 2018. Eerdmans.

    The Fishing LessonIn this adaptation of a story by German author Heinrich Böll (1917–1985), a fisherman napping in his small boat in a coastal harbor is woken by the click, click, click of a tourist’s camera. In a series of colorful multi-panel and full-page illustrations by the French comic artist Emile Bravo, the tourist proceeds to explain to the fisherman how he could expand his fishing business to include multiple vessels, a smokehouse, and even a seafood restaurant. All the while, the fisherman remains silent. When the tourist states that becoming rich and successful would allow him to nap in the sunshine of the harbor, the fisherman points out that is exactly what he was doing before the tourist woke him up! This story is a humorous and gentle lesson reminding readers that success can be defined in many different ways.
    —LC

    How to Knit a Monster. Annemarie van Haeringen. 2018. Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    How to Knit a MonsterIn this charming tale originally published in the Netherlands, Greta, a goat who is a talented knitter, must use her extraordinary skills and quick thinking to solve a problem that gets bigger and bigger the more she knits. When Mrs. Sheep insults her knitting skills, Greta becomes distracted, loses track of her knitting, and accidentally knits a wolf. When the wolf springs to life and gobbles up Mrs. Sheep, Greta must quickly knit a solution to save her. A humorous series of events unfolds as Greta knits larger and larger beasts to save Mrs. Sheep and herself. Using India ink, watercolor, and colored pencils, Annemarie van Haeringen effectively uses line drawings on primarily white backgrounds to keep readers’ attention on the foreground and Greta’s textured, intricately knitted creatures.
    —LC

    Koko and Bo. Lisen Adbåge. Trans. Annie Prime. 2018. Enchanted Lion.

    Koko and BoOriginally published in Sweden, this picture book follows Koko and Bo (presumably Koko’s father, although not explicitly stated) as they navigate the young child’s stubborn exercise of independence by exclaiming “I DON’T WANT TO!” when asked to do something throughout the story. Although the story presents situations that may make some adults uncomfortable (such as Bo’s “Don’t then” response and departure following Koko’s refusal to leave after four hours at the playground), these events present opportunities to discuss parent–child relationships. The illustrations clearly express the emotions of Koko and Bo in their encounters as well as their love for each other. Additionally, Adbåge makes the illustrative decisions to depict Koko as gender neutral (the child is never identified as a boy or a girl in the text), and Bo, who is shown wearing brightly patterned clothing, is only identified as male by the use of the pronoun “his” at the end of the story.
    —LC

    Little Bear’s Big House. Benjamin Chaud. 2018. Candlewick.

    Little Bear's Big HouseIn early spring, restless Little Bear announces that he’s ready for a big adventure and sets out to explore far, far away from the forest. French author/illustrator Benjamin Chaud’s humorous, richly detailed artwork for this oversize book reveals Little Bear’s hurried movement through the forest and arrival at a charming red, multi-storied house in a clearing. Little Bears enters the unoccupied house and makes a big mess as he explores its many rooms happily singing “La, la, la-di-dum! Being on my own is so much fun!” until he hears a loud bang. Who’s in the house? Monsters? Ghosts? Discovering what sends Little Bear—and Mama, Papa, and Teeny Tiny Bear—running back to the forest makes this latest adventure of Little Bear as delightful as his earlier ones: The Bear’s Song (2013), Bear’s Sea Escape (2014), and The Bear’s Surprise (2015).
    —CA

    The Old Man. Sarah V. Dubois. Trans. Daniel Hahn. Ill. Claude K. Dubois. 2018. Gecko.

    The Old ManAs the people in town begin their day, it is also time for an old man to get up after a night on the streets. He’s cold; he’s hungry; he’s moved along by police officers. At the shelter where he hopes to get a meal, he must give his name but can’t remember it. As he huddles under his blanket in the park, he is noticed by a young girl who offers him her sandwich and tells him he looks like a teddy bear. That evening, the man returns to the shelter, and when asked for his name, he says, “Teddy.” The pencil sketches washed with a muted palette that match this quiet story, originally published in France, express the despair of the homeless old man and the difference a small act of kindness makes to him.
    —CA

    RainRain. Anders Holmer. 2018. Eerdmans.

    Twelve pairings of haiku and illustrations by Swedish author/illustrator Anders Holmer capture a series of short vignettes, each of them taking place in a differennt kind of rain, including a drizzle, downpour, thunderstorm, and even a shower of cherry blossom petals. The vivid imagery of the verses and the paintings (done in muted greys and brown with touches of color) invite reflection on nature and our relationship to it. For example, the verse “Beneath ashes are / seeds for a new forest that / might burn someday too” is visually portrayed in an exquisitely detailed painting showing a gentle rain extinguishing the last embers of a forest wildfire.
    —CA

    Sports Are Fantastic Fun! Ole Könnecke. Trans. Monika Smith. 2018. Gecko.

    Sports Are Fantastic Fun!This informational picture book playfully depicts anthropomorphized animals participating in a wide range of sports—everything from golf to rugby to billiards. Each sport is individually highlighted, allowing readers to read as much or as little as they want to at one time. Readers of all ages can learn about different games and competitions (including some they may not know about such as French boules, caber toss, and slacklining) in this collection of sports played around the world. German author/illustrator Ole Könnecke’s humorous ink-and-watercolor spreads with a Richard Scarry-like layout of small blocks of text with basic information (and clever asides) and illustrations of animal athletes—alligators climbing a snowy alpine mountain, a giraffe pole vaulting, a flamingo performing a rhythmic gymnastics routine, and more—add to the fun of this engaging introduction to sports.
    —LC

    The Visitor. Antje Damm.Trans. Sally-Ann Spencer.2018. Gecko.

    The VisitorGerman author/illustrator Antje Damm uses intriguing illustrations, created with cutout figures posed against dioramas, to tell the story of a visit made by a boy to a reclusive woman that brings color to her life. One day, when Elise opens a window to let fresh air into her tidy but colorless room, a strange blue thing made of paper flies in. In the morning, when she responds to a persistent knocking, she finds a small boy at the door. “I’m here for my plane,” he says, and then asks to use her bathroom. “It’s urgent!” As the boy moves through the house, bright colors are added to all the things he sees and asks about. By the time the boy waves goodbye after spending the day, even the once white image of Elise is touched with pink as she adds, “Bye for now, Emil.”
    —CA

    The Wolf Who Visited the Land of Fairy Tales. Orianne Lallemand. Ill. Éléonore Thuillier. 2018. Auzou.

    The Wolf Who Visited the Land of Fairy TalesWolf wants to bake an apple cake for the annual Spring Tea Party and sets out to find a recipe and gather ingredients. Although plagued by the “big bad wolf” stereotype, he succeeds in getting Aunt Rosie’s recipe from the three little pigs after helping them build their houses, and borrows needed ingredients (flour, butter, eggs, sugar, and apples) from various characters in the Land of Fairy Tales. Following Aunt Rosie’s recipe, Wolf arrives at the party with a perfectly baked apple cake and some new friends, including the Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, the Little Red Hen, and Snow White. Wolf, who is featured as a long nosed, big eyed, toothy, charming, and not-at-all-bad wolf in the colorful cartoon-style illustrations, is a popular character in The Wolf Who . . . series in France.
    —CA

    Wolfy. Grégoire Solotareff. Trans. Daniel Hahn. 2018. Gecko.

    WolfyWolfy (a young wolf) and Tom (a rabbit) develop an unconventional friendship, but when a game of Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf becomes too frightening for Tom, he refuses to leave his burrow and does not want to see Wolfy again despite Wolfy’s attempt to apologize. After having his own scary encounter with a pack of wolves, Wolfy truly understands how scared he made Tom feel and the two patch up their friendship. French author/illustrator Grégoire Solotareff uses bold black lines and large blocks of bright primary colors for dramatic effect in this story of the ups and downs of friendship. Wolfy is the first translation into English of Solotareff’s popular classic picture book Loulou, first published in France in 1989.
    —LC

    Laura Cutler is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Delaware. 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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    • Children's & YA Literature

    Animals, Animals, Animals

    By Jennifer Shettel and Skye Hisiro
     | Nov 26, 2018

    The diversity of animals around the world captures the attention of people young and old. The books in this week’s column invite readers to learn about the characteristics and behaviors of various animals that populate the land, sea, and sky and to consider their relationships with humans.

    Ages 4–8

    Inky’s Amazing Escape: How a Very Smart Octopus Found His Way Home. Sy Montgomery. Ill. Amy Schimler-Safford. 2018. Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster.

    Inky's Amazing EscapeNaturalist Sy Montgomery shares her love for the octopus in this delightful picture book based on the true story of Inky, a young octopus who proved to be an escape artist. Found in a fisherman’s lobster trap, Inky was donated to the National Aquarium in Wellington, New Zealand, where he lived for several years before escaping from his tank and finding a way back to the ocean through a drain in the floor. Amy Schimler-Safford’s whimsical mixed-media illustrations capture the sense of mischievous fun that Montgomery uses to characterize curious Inky. Back matter includes an endnote on the escapes of Inky and other octopuses, eight “fun facts” about the octopus, a bibliography, and links to news articles and video clips about Inky’s escape.
    —JS

    Little Whale. Jo Weaver. 2018. Peachtree.

    Little WhaleWith gentle text and beautiful monochromatic artwork done in charcoal, author/illustrator Jo Weaver tells the tale of Gray Whale and her baby, Little Whale, as they journey from the warm southern seas to the cool waters of the North. Readers will relate to Little Whale’s mixed feelings of uncertainty, wonder, and fear during the migration. With Gray Whale’s nudging and encouragement, Little Gray swims through kelp forests, over coral reefs, and through dark ocean waters until finally they hear the welcome-home song of their pod of gray whales. Reading this engaging fictional story to young children is the perfect introduction to learning more about the long annual migration made by gray whales to breeding grounds in the warm waters of Mexico in the late autumn and their return to feeding grounds in the Arctic seas in the spring.
    —SH

    A Pandemonium of Parrots and Other Animals. Ill. Hui Skipp. 2018. Big Picture/Candlewick.

    A Pandenomium of ParrotsThis book about the collective names of 13 animals—from a company of angelfish to an ambush of tigers—offers an engaging interactive reading experience for young readers. Each double-page spread features brightly colored portraits of a variety of individuals and a four-line verse of rhyming couplets about the animal. For example, the spread for a lounge of lizards includes “Casually they lie around, / slouched on rocks or on the ground. / Suddenly one spots its prey, / and in a flash, it darts away.” Questions scattered on the pages (such as “Who’s the smallest?” and “Who’s catching a fly?” in the case of the lizards) add a search-and-find element. Back matter includes a “Did You See?” section that prompts rereading and a “Who’s Who” section with a brief paragraph about each animal.
    —SH

    The Secret Life of the Little Brown Bat. Laurence Pringle. Ill. Kate Garchinsky. 2018. Boyds Mills/Highlights.

    The Secret Life of the Little Brown BatLaurence Pringle’s latest book in his Secret Life Of series, with beautiful realistic illustrations, rendered in pastels and aqua crayons on sanded paper, by Kate Garchinsky, follows one year in the life of a little brown bat named Otis. Vocabulary related to the characteristics and behavior of the little brown bat such as echolocation, hibernation, and nursery colony is introduced in context in the accessible text. Back matter includes a glossary of terms highlighted in italics in the text and an author’s note with additional information on the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) and other bats, including the recent decline in bat populations due to white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease.
    —JS

    The Squirrels’ Busy Year (A First Science Storybook). Martin Jenkins. Ill. Richard Jones. 2018. Candlewick.

    The Squirrels' Busy YearMartin Jenkins’ spare, lyrical text (“Down the trunk . . . / over to the stump . . . / a quick dig, and yes! / Some acorns.”) and Richard Jones’ beautifully-composed mixed media illustrations invite young readers to explore a year in the lives of two gray squirrels. Descriptions of weather conditions through the seasons—beginning in winter and ending in late fall as winter is again approaching—help readers understand the changes in the squirrels’ behavior during their busy year. An introductory note mentions concepts related to why there are seasons that adults may want to discuss with young children as this narrative informational book is read to them. Back matter includes a “Thinking About Seasons and Weather” section of questions and a simple activity and an index.
    —SH

    Wild Orca: The Oldest, Wisest Whale in the World. Brenda Peterson. Ill. Wendell Minor. 2018. Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt.

    Wild OrcaOn the longest day of the year, a young girl named Mia is on a whale-watching mission with her family in the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington. Annually, faithful whale watchers eagerly await the arrival of Granny—the matriarch of a superpod of orcas migrating along the Pacific Northwest—and the new calves. Information about orca family structure and communication is placed within the context of the story. Wendell Minor’s illustrations, rendered in gouache watercolor, express the excitement of the day and present majestic images of the orcas. An author’s note provides additional information about Granny (who was believed to be 105 years old the last time she was spotted in 2016) and encourages protection of the orcas in their natural environment.
    —JS

    Ages 9–11

    Hawk Rising. Maria Gianferrari. Ill. Brian Floca. 2018. Roaring Brook.

    Hawk RisingA young birdwatcher watches as a hawk family wakes up. Mother Hawk stays with the young chicks while Father Hawk prepares for the hunt. Missed opportunities and obstacles prolong Father Hawk’s hunt as a chipmunk scuttles away, crows force him away from his perch, and sparrows shield themselves in brambles. Finally, a squirrel is spotted, and Father Hawk “parachutes. Legs tipping, talons gripping . . . and grabbing” and return to the nest with his prey. The imagery of the lyrical text created by Maria Gianferrari’s use of alliteration (“drying drops of dew” and “darting and diving, driving”) and vivid verbs (jostle, charge, thrash, scurry) is complemented by Brian Floca’s stunning realistic watercolor illustrations. Back matter includes facts about red-tailed hawks, suggestions for additional reading, and links to related websites.
    —SH

    Magnificent Birds. Ill. Narisa Togo. 2018. Candlewick Studio/Candlewick.

    Magnificent BirdsThis beautifully designed, oversized book introduces readers to 14 birds from around the world, including the bald eagle from North America, the Andean flamingo from South America, the greater bird of paradise from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, and the kakapo from New Zealand. Each double-page spread features a colorful lino-cut illustration of a bird in its natural habitat and a block of text with the bird’s common name, scientific name, native region, and one to two paragraphs on its characteristics and behavior, including facts about what makes the bird particularly unusual and “magnificent.”
    —JS

    Ages 12–14

    The Great Rhino Rescue: Saving the Southern White Rhinos. Sandra Markle. 2018. Millbrook/Lerner.

    The Great Rhino RescueIn her latest animal rescue text, Sandra Markle informs readers of the plight of the Southern white rhinoceros—a mammal believed to be extinct in the 1800s due to overhunting for sport and loss of its savanna habitat to farming. Although a small group (less than 100) of the mammals was discovered in South Africa in 1895, the numbers of white rhino remains small today—around 20,000—and the species faces a new threat from illegal poaching for their much sought-after horns. The high-interest text provides background on the conservation status of the rhinoceros over the years as well as current efforts to save the species from extinction. Nonfiction text features include a table of contents, heading/subheadings, numerous captioned full-color photographs, sidebars of related information, an author’s note, a timeline, a glossary, an index, and additional resources (books and websites) for readers to explore.
    —JS

    The Hyena Scientist (Scientists in the Field). Sy Montgomery. Ill. Nic Bishop. 2018. Houghton Mifflin.

    The Hyena ScientistIn their latest book in the Scientists in the Field series, naturalist/ author Sy Montgomery and biologist /photographer Nic Bishop challenge popular negative perceptions of hyenas by shadowing zoologist Kay Holekamp and her research team at Camp Fisi in Masai Mara, Kenya. Readers will feel like they are along on the adventurous 10-day visit as they enjoy Montgomery’s account of observations and experiences working with the researchers and Bishop’s close-up photographs of the spotted hyena. Sidebars present stories of the team members’ educational journeys to this line of animal research. Back matter includes “Fast Facts” about the spotted hyena’s habitat, diet, breeding, relatives, and more; a bibliography; acknowledgments; and an index.
    —SH

    Ages 15+

    Animals Go to War: From Dogs to Dolphins. Connie Goldsmith. 2018. Twenty-First Century/Lerner.

    Animals Go to WarThe opening story of this fascinating book about a brave dog named Judy, who was an official Prisoner of War during World War II, provides the reader with an initial understanding of the important role animals play in wartime. Subsequent chapters focus on other animals (including elephants, pigeons, and horses) that go to war. After readers gain a better understanding of how animals are currently being trained in support of troops, they will be able to thoughtfully defend a position on whether or not they think animals should be used in battle. Back matter includes source notes, a glossary, an index, a selected bibliography, and other resources for further exploration of this interesting topic.
    —JS

    Outrageous Animal Adaptations: From Big-eared Bats to Frill-necked Lizards. Michael J. Rosen. 2018. Twenty-First Century/Lerner.

    Outrageous Animal AdaptationsMichael J. Rosen uses a humorous, conversational style of writing to inform and intrigue readers about adaptations of 24 animals, including unfamiliar ones such as the aye-aye and geoduck as well as some odd species of more familiar animals. A table of contents with attention-grabbing, descriptive titles directs readers to chapters on animals of interest. For example, “Mayan Tapir: A Most Noteworthy Nose” refers the reader to a three-page chapter (presented in a witty fashion) about the tapir, including that the vegetarian tapir’s flexible, trunk-like nose is useful for snatching fallen fruit from the forest floor, grabbing branches of higher foliage—and for sniffing out the urine-marked paths of other territorial tapirs. Chapters include captioned full-color photographs and sidebars of key adaptations, basic information on classification, distribution, and conservation status, and “curious facts” about the animals.
    —SH

    Jennifer W. Shettel is an associate professor at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in literacy. Prior to joining the faculty at Millersville, she spent 16 years as an elementary classroom teacher and reading specialist in the public schools. Skye Hisiro is an elementary classroom teacher in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and is a recent graduate from Pennsylvania State Harrisburg’s Masters in Literacy Education Program.

     

    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 From Across the Pond

    By Chelsey Bahlmann Bollinger and Carolyn Angus
     | Nov 19, 2018

    In this companion to our October 29 column, “Books from Down Under,” we feature books that originated in the United Kingdom. Included are new titles by some of the British authors and illustrators with extensive bodies of work who have won national and international recognition and are popular with readers on both sides of “the pond.”  

    Ages 4–8

    Hide and Seek. Anthony Browne. 2018. Candlewick.

    Hide and SeekPoppy and her younger brother, Cy, who have been sad since their dog, Goldie, went missing, decide to cheer themselves up by playing hide-and-seek. As Poppy counts to 10, Cy runs off into the woods near their home and hides in a structure he finds built from a tangle of branches. Browne’s use of perspective contributes to the increasing suspense, with trees looming large and shadows darkening as Poppy moves deeper and deeper into the woods and begins to worry that Cy went too far. Cy begins to wish that Poppy would find him. Poppy hears a noise. Cy does too. The story ends with a joyful reunion of Cy, Poppy, and Goldie. An extra bonus for readers comes with the search for items hidden in Browne’s surreal paintings. (Anthony Browne lives in Kent, England.)
    —CA

    How to Be a Lion. Ed Vere. 2018. Doubleday/Random House.

    How to be a LionLeonard is intent on dispelling stereotypes about the characteristics of lions. “There are so many ways that you can be you,” he says. Instead of fierce, he is gentle. Instead of loud he is quiet. Leonard befriends Marianne the duck, and the unlikely pair play, go on walks, have long conversations, and watch for shooting stars together. Marianne even helps Leonard write his poems that counter misconceptions about lions. Ed Vere uses thick black lines and bright yellow and orange colors to create the illustrations for this delightful picture book with a gentle lesson about knowing who you are and thinking for yourself when others try to tell you how to behave. Reading How to Be a Lion aloud may also invite discussion about the relationship between humans and the world’s endangered lion population. (Author/illustrator Ed Vere lives in London, England.)
    —CBB

    Mouse House. John Burningham. 2018. Candlewick.

    Mouse HouseWith a simple text and his signature scribbly, watercolor-washed artwork, author/illustrator John Burningham tells the story of a family of mice living in the house of a human family (a father, mother, boy, and girl). On his way to bed, the boy sees a mouse, and the father phones the mouse catcher to come the next morning. Before going to bed, the children write a note to the mouse family warning them to get out of the house, and they do. The boy and girl watch the mouse children playing in the backyard each evening until they disappear with the first snowfall. They don’t know where the mice have gone until the boy once again sees a mouse on his way to bed. “But he doesn’t say anything at all.” (John Burningham lives in London.)
    —CA

    Neon Leon. Jane Clarke. Ill. Britta Teckentrup. 2018. Nosy Crow/Candlewick.

    Neon LeonThe reader is oriented to Neon Leon by the minimalist representation of only Leon’s eye and a straight line for a mouth on the neon orange front endpaper. Leon is a chameleon and, although most chameleons can change color, Leon cannot. He remains bright orange in all surroundings. Leon’s facial expressions clearly show that he is sad and feels like he doesn’t fit in anywhere. This postmodern picture book requires the reader to interact by answering questions, responding quietly and loudly, softly turning the pages when Leon goes to sleep, making predictions, and counting. Is there a place where Leon fits in? Young children will delight in the perfect ending of the story and in seeing Leon’s sad, straight line of a mouth curved into a smile on the back endpaper. (Jane Clarke lives in Kent, England; Britta Teckentrup lives in Berlin, Germany.)  
    —CBB

    The Night Box. Louise Greig. Ill. Ashling Lindsay. 2018. Clarion/Houghton Mifflin.

    The Night BoxAs day ends, young Max has an important task to perform before going to sleep. He turns the key in the Night Box in his bedroom—“CLICK / and another / click . . . / Up comes the lid . .  . /  WHOOSH! / Day slips inside as Night sweeps out.” And when tired Night returns to the boy’s bedroom after his job is done, Max opens the box and “WHOOSH! / Night slips inside as Day sweeps out.” The lyrical language of Scottish poet Louise Greig’s text and Irish artist Ashling Lindsay’s mood-setting illustrations of their debut picture book tell a gentle story of the magic of the natural world in the cycle of day and night. (Louise Greig lives in Aberdeen, Scotland; Ashling Lindsay lives in Belfast, Ireland.)
    —CA

    The Snow Lion. Jim Helmore. Ill. Richard Jones. 2018. Peachtree.

    The Snow LionCaro, the young female protagonist, has just moved into a new house with her mum. The house is very white, and so is the huge snow lion that blends into the walls she discovers in it. Throughout the story, which is illustrated in calming colors and powdery white, the snow lion encourages shy Caro to go outside and join the children she sees playing, and she finally does. Mum invites all of Caro’s new friends over for a painting party. Once the house is painted in a variety of colors, Caro is saddened to discover she can’t find the snow lion. When she steps outside where everything is covered in snow, however, she finds the snow lion again. Readers learn that the lion has helped Caro find friends and will continue to be a companion. (Jim Helmore lives in London, England; Richard Jones lives in Devon, England.)
    —CBB

    Ages 9–11

    The Guggenheim Mystery. Robin Stevens. 2018. Knopf/Random House.

    The Guggenheim MysteryTed Sparks, the teen sleuth from The London Eye Mystery (2008) by the late British author Siobhan Dowd, gets involved in a second mystery, written by Robin Stevens at the request of the Siobhan Dowd Trust based on Dowd’s intention to write a sequel involving the Guggenheim Museum. On a trip to New York City with Mum and older sister, Kat, for a visit with cousin Salim and aunt Gloria, a newly appointed curator at the Guggenheim, 12-year-old Ted, who describes himself as having a “funny brain, which works on a different operating system than other people’s,” has another opportunity to use his Sherlockian deductive skills. When “In the Black Square,” a famous painting by Wassily Kandinsky, is stolen from the museum and the police quickly make Aunt Gloria the prime suspect, Ted and Kat methodically follow clues and work their way through a list of suspects to recover the painting and exonerate her. (American-born Robin Stevens lives in Oxford, England.)
    —CA

    The Tale of Angelino Brown. David Almond. Ill. Alex T. Smith. 2018. Candlewick. 

    The Tale of Angelino BrownOne day as Bert Brown is driving his regular bus route, he discovers a tiny angel in his shirt pocket and brings it home to his wife, Betty. Delighted with their angel boy, they name him Angelino and, reluctantly, Betty sends him to school in compliance with the law. The school children quickly befriend Angelino and begin teaching him how to speak, read, and write. Unfortunately, some devious adults kidnap Angelino, and it’s up to Angelino’s new friends to put their heads together to rescue him. Alex T. Smith’s pencil drawings, featuring charming Angelino and a host of cleverly portrayed villains and heroes, are the perfect complement to master storyteller David Almond’s delightfully cheeky chapter book. (David Almond lives in Northumberland, England; Alex T. Smith lives in Warwickshire, England.)
    —CBB

    Ages 12–14

    The Dam. David Almond. Ill. Levi Pinfold. 2018. Candlewick Studio/Candlewick.

    The DamA simple, expressive text and stunning illustrations (done in charcoal, ink, pastels, and digitally) tell the evocative story of a father and daughter’s walk through a desolate valley. They take down the boards nailed over the doors of abandoned cottages and fill each of them one more time with the music of her violin, singing, and dancing in memory of the importance of music in the lives of those who once lived in the valley that will be flooded following the completion of a dam. There is sadness over what is being lost but also hopefulness for the future of the region. “Behind the dam, / within the water, the music stays, / will never be gone.” An endnote includes background for this true story based on the experience of musicians Mike Tickell and his daughter, Kathryn, when the Kielder Dam was constructed in Northumberland, England, in 1981. (David Almond lives in Northumberland, England; Levi Pinfold lives in Queensland, Australia.)
    —CA

    My Name Is Victoria. Lucy Worsley. 2018. Candlewick.

    My Name is VictoriaLucy Worsley, historian, author, and chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces (including Kensington Palace), writes about an alternative course of events leading up to Queen Victoria’s coronation, loosely based on the queen’s letters and diaries. Victoria Conroy (Miss V) is taken to Kensington Palace by her father, Sir John Conroy, and told that she will become the companion of Princess Victoria. Under the Kensington System, there are strict rules that the young princess must follow to avoid being killed, which include staying inside (and playing behind the couch) most of the time. Miss V becomes friends with the Princess Victoria but is torn between loyalty to the princess and her father as she learns several secrets during her stay at Kensington Palace and must make some difficult decisions. In an epilogue, Worsley provides background for her imaginative novel of an alternate history of Queen Victoria’s childhood. (Lucy Worsley lives in London, England.)
    —CBB

    Ages 15+

    The State of Grace. Rachael Lucas. 2018. Feiwel and Friends.

    The State of GraceAutistic 15-year-old Grace describes life as “a complicated game.” Grace’s experiences are presented from her perspective in this honest and witty novel by Rachael Lucas, whose daughter is autistic. Grace loves her horse Mabel, her sister Leah, her best friend Anna, and Gabe (the most popular boy in school and her first boyfriend). However, she’s not a fan of her mother’s friend Eve, who has been hanging around frequently since her father, a filmmaker, has been away. Grace makes some unwise decisions in an effort to fit in at school and work through uncertain and unpredictable family issues as well as deal with friendships and first love. (Rachael Lucas lives in North West England.)
    —CBB

    Chelsey M. Bahlmann Bollinger is an assistant professor in the Early, Elementary, and Reading Department at James Madison University, in Harrisonburg, Virginia. 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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    War and the Aftermath

    By Sandip Wilson and Carolyn Angus
     | Nov 12, 2018

    From picture books to novels, the offerings in this week’s column explore war and its impact on everyday lives. Some of the books deal with events and people in past wars or present-day conflicts around the world, while others consider war and its aftermath in general terms. The books approach the experiences and effects of war from various perspectives and are rich resources for encouraging discussion in classrooms.

    Ages 4–8

    The Day War Came. Nicola Davies. Ill. Rebecca Cobb. 2018. Candlewick.

    The Day War CameA young girl tells how she was in school on the day war came. “At first, just like a spattering of hail, / a voice of thunder . . . / then all smoke and fire and noise that I didn’t understand.” War is shown as an engulfing black cloud in Cobb’s expressive illustrations (done in pencil, colored pencil, and watercolor) as the girl moves through rubble to what was once her home. “War took everything. / War took everyone.” After making a long journey to a refugee camp, she discovers a school in the nearby town, but is turned away. There is no room for her. No chair for her to sit on. In despair, she huddles in a hut, until a boy offers a chair for her so that she can join his class. In an author’s note, Davies recounts an event in the U.K. that inspired this poetic story of a refugee child.
    —CA

    Marwan's Journey. Patricia de Arias. Ill. Laura Borràs. 2018.  Minedition.

    Marwan's Journey“I walk. . . / and I don’t know / when I will get there, / or where I am going.” A young boy named Marwan tells the story of his long, arduous journey crossing a desert sustained by dreams in which his mother says, “Marwan, keep going, walk, and walk, and walk” and by memories of his family and home before the night soldiers came “and swallowed up everything: / my house, my garden, my homeland.” With Patricia de Arias’ lyrical text and Laura Borràs’ striking ink and watercolor-wash illustration, this picture book is a child-friendly story of the world’s refugee crisis that ends with the boy’s arrival in another country, along with the hundreds of people with whom he has walked in “a line of humans like ants / crossing the desert.” For Marwan the future is uncertain, but he remains hopeful that one day he will be able to return to his homeland. 
    —CA

    Mustafa. Marie-Louise Gay. 2018. Groundwood/House of Anansi.

    Mustafa“Mustafa and his family traveled a very, very long way to get to their new country,” and he still has dreams of the war they fled. In this gentle story about a young refugee beginning to feel welcomed in his new home, Gay’s detailed, brightly colored, mixed-media illustrations show Mustafa exploring in the park near his apartment where he sees things that remind him of his old country but also feels invisible as he watches other children play. And then one day, the “girl-with-a-cat” who once spoke to him with words he could not understand, makes a come-with-me sign with her hand and takes him to the playground where they swing together. They introduce themselves—Ma-ri-a and Mus-ta-fa— and Mustafa doesn’t feel invisible anymore.
    —CA

    Ages 9–11

    Lifeboat 12: Based on a True Story. Susan Hood. 2018. Simon & Schuster.

    Lifeboat 12In the summer of 1940, with London increasingly threatened by German bombings, the parents of 13-year-old Ken Sparks take advantage of a program to send him to Canada aboard the SS City of Benares, a passenger liner sailing in a convoy. Although sad to be leaving London, Ken is in the company of 89 children and delighted with the shipboard amenities and abundant food. When the liner is torpedoed about 600 miles from England, however, the adventure turns life threatening as the children scramble for lifeboats as the ship sinks. Based on a true story, Susan Hood’s suspenseful novel in verse recounts the survivors’ endurance of eight days at sea before they are rescued and returned to the U.K. The back matter includes extensive notes on facts behind Lifeboat 12, Hood’s sources and research, and archival photographs of people and details depicted in the novel.
    —SW

    A Story Like the Wind. Gill Lewis. Ill. Jo Weaver. 2018. Eerdmans.

    A Story Like the Wind“In a small boat, with a small hope, in a rising wind, on a rising sea,” 14-year-old Rami uses his violin, the one thing that he could not leave behind when he fled the soldiers, to share a story with fellow passengers. It is the old story of a white stallion who raced like the wind and refused to be tamed by the Dark Lord and how the instrument called the morin khuur, the horsehead fiddle, was made to keep the story alive. Gill Lewis’ lyrical short novel, enriched by Jo Weaver’s expressive monochrome charcoal illustrations, is a moving and memorable story of shared remembrances and the hope for safety and freedom of six Middle Eastern refugees adrift at sea in a rubber dingy on a dark and windy night.
    —CA

    Winnie’s Great War. Lindsay Mattick & Josh Greenhut. Ill. Sophie Blackall. 2018. Little, Brown.

    Winnie's Great WArIn 1914, when veterinarian Harry Colebourn travels east from Winnipeg on his way to the European front of World War I, he purchases a bear cub at the railroad station in White River, Ontario, from a hunter. And so begins the fabled life of Winnie, mascot of the Second Cavalry Infantry Brigade, in this whimsical novel written by Lindsay Mattick, Colebourn’s great granddaughter, and Josh Greenhut and illustrated with Sophie Blackall’s charming ink drawings. Winnie remains with the brigade until the men’s trench-warfare training in England, when a commanding general decides to use Winnie as a bomb-sniffing bear. Colebourn donates the bear to the London zoo, where she lives for more than 20 years and meets the son of A. A. Milne. Back matter includes archival photographs, entries from Harry Colebourn’s diary, and an author's note.
    —SW  

    Ages 12–14

    Escape from Aleppo. N. H. Senzai. 2018. Simon & Schuster. 

    Escape from AleppoIn 2013, 15-year-old Nadia and her family live under the constant threat of bombing of their Aleppo neighborhood. When their apartment is bombed, Nadia is separated from her family and she sets out on her own to escape to Turkey with hopes of being reunited with them. She learns to trust Ammo Mazan, a mysterious, elderly man and two destitute boys she meets, who help her get past thieves and through checkpoints and areas of continued bombing. In this suspenseful novel about courage and friendship, Nadia learns of Mazan’s underground work with scholars, government workers, and military officers to save and conserve Syrian cultural relics from destruction and the black market. An author’s note includes background information about events in the novel.
    —SW

    Nowhere Boy. Katherine Marsh. 2018. Roaring Brook.

    Nowhere BoyFourteen-year-old Ahmed, an unaccompanied refugee from Syria, has been living in Parc Maximilien in Brussels with other refugee families, but when the park is closed and a   smuggler steals his money and cell phone, Ahmed must scramble to find shelter. He hides in a complex of rooms in the cellar of a house, where 13-year-old Max and his family, visiting from America for a year, have taken residence. Max befriends Ahmed, and secretly, with his one friend and a boy who had bullied him, helps Ahmed achieve his deepest wishes, to go to school and to find his father in a country increasingly tense following terrorist bombings. In this suspenseful novel of friendship and unexpected heroes, Ahmed and Max discover courage and resourcefulness. The end matter includes a conversation with author Katherine Marsh, a resident of Brussels, in which she discusses her inspiration and experiences related to the refugee crisis that helped to shape the novel.
    —SW

    The War Outside. Monica Hesse. 2018. Little, Brown.

    The War OutsideIn 1944, Japanese–American Haruko, whose family is from Denver, and German–American Margot, whose family were farmers in Iowa, find each other in Crystal City, Texas, in an internment camp built to house Japanese, German, and Italian families. The two girls, who live in separate parts of the camp, face their doubts and suspicion of one another at school, but during a dust storm they seek shelter together in the ice house, which becomes their meeting place as they develop a secret friendship. However, Haruko believes her father is hiding a secret and Margot discovers her father’s Nazi sympathies, and after an accident at the community pool strains relationships among the residents, their friendship becomes increasingly tenuous in this novel of love and heartbreak. Back matter includes an informative “Note on Historical Accuracy” by the author.
    —SW

    Ages 15+

    The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees. Don Brown. 2018. Houghton Mifflin.

    The Unwanted StoriesUsing a graphic-novel format of panels of full-color artwork, blocks of text, and dialogue balloons, award-winning author/illustrator Don Brown effectively weaves together stories of refugees of the Syrian Civil War, which began in March 2011 as a revolution to overthrow the regime of President Bashar-al-Assad. In the intervening years, millions of people have fled the conflict and overwhelmed neighboring countries, while countless more have made desperate escapes to Europe. In a postscript, Brown addresses how the Syrian refugee crisis has “sparked a present-day backlash against immigration of all kinds and upended politics across the globe.” Back matter for this informative book that keeps the focus on the refugee experience includes Brown’s notes on his firsthand visits to refugee camps, source notes, an extensive bibliography, and the evocative poem, “Hope Behind the Shadow of Pain!” by Sahir Noah, and the painting, “Hope” by Salam Noah.
    —CA

    Sandip LeeAnne Wilson serves as professor in the School of Education and the English Department of Husson University, Bangor, Maine. 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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    Celebrating Poetry

    By Mary Napoli, Lesley Colabucci, and Skye Hisiro
     | Nov 05, 2018

    In this column, we share several new selections of poetry that provide opportunities for interdisciplinary connections. Poetry functions as both a format and a genre in these books. Novels in verse with inviting stories are included alongside poetry collections, some of which have an informational focus. There’s something for everyone when reading and sharing poetry.

    Ages 4–8

    Bully on the Bus. Kathryn Apel. 2018. Kane Miller.

    Bully on the BusSeven-year-old Leroy loves reading, playing, and being one of Mrs. Wilson’s Superkids. He hates riding the bus to school because DJ, a high school student who says school is “for dummies,” physically and verbally accosts him. Each school day Leroy worries, “What will the bully do today?” and doesn’t understand why no one intervenes. Neither the elderly bus driver nor his older sister, Ruby, a fifth grader, can stop DJ’s bullying. Despite the bully's attempts to silence him with threats of worse to come, Leroy finds the courage to confide his feelings to his parents and teacher. Remembering their advice and armed with a secret weapon, he’s prepared to stand up to the bully on the bus. Reading this short chapter book in verse is a good opener for discussion of the issue of bullying.
    —MN

    A Round of Robins. Katie Hesterman. Ill. Sergio Ruzzier. 2018. Nancy Paulsen/Penguin.

    A Round of RobinsKatie Hesterman offers young readers 16 delightful poems about a family of robins. Mama Robin is the “architect” who collects materials to build a nest. “It’s guaranteed a perfect fit / So all she has to do is sit,” waiting for “Four little ones all set to hatch— / An up-and-coming birdie batch.” The poems important milestones: the four eggs hatch, the fledglings grow, they learn to fly and find worms, and the siblings finally venture out on their own. Mama now builds a new nest and lays four more eggs. Sergio Ruzzier’s lighthearted pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations give the robins anthropomorphic facial expressions. This debut collection of poems about the robin’s life cycle will soar off the shelves.
    —MN

    Vivid: Poems and Notes About Color.  Julie Paschkis. 2018. Godwin/Henry Holt.

    Vivid - CopyJulie Paschkis playfully pairs paintings with poems and informational notes to explore color. Spreads pay tribute to yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, indigo, blue, green, brown, white, and black, ending with the poem “Rainbow.” Paschkis’ vibrant gouache paintings express the many depths and shades of color and complement her frolicsome poems, which are rich with descriptive language. “Loudly, rowdy / daffodils yell hello. / Hot yellow.” Her verses also employ wordplay to reveal associated emotions. “Oh, what did I do? / Blue-hoo, / Blue-hoo!” Text boxes present notes on the origins and meanings of color names and fascinating tidbits about the colors. An author’s note provides basic information on the science of color and the perception of colors by humans and different animals.
    —SH

    Ages 9–11

    Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship. Irene Latham & Charles Waters. Ill. Sean Qualls & Selina Alko. 2018. Carolrhoda/Lerner.

    Can I Touch Your HairIrene Latham and Charles Waters collaborate on a series of thought-provoking,dueling poems about race and human connection. The poems are written from the perspectives of two fifth graders, Irene (who is white) and Charles (who is black). Within the first poem set, the reader discovers their reluctance to work together when they are assigned to be partners on a poetry writing project. However, as the poems progress, they begin to realize their similar interests and to understand their differences, and a special bond begins to form. “Sometimes we say the wrong thing, sometimes we misunderstand. / Now we listen, we ask questions. We are so much more than black and white!” The expressive illustrations, rendered in acrylic paint, colored pencil, and collage, reinforce the understanding and friendship that come through Irene and Charles’ communication during the project.
    —SH

    Leaf Litter Critters. Leslie Bulion. Ill. Robert Meganck. 2018. Peachtree.

    Leaf Litter Critters - CopyLeslie Bulion presents 19 clever poems about some of the microscopic critters and organisms at work in leaf litter ecosystems. Did you know that rotifers are the “smallest multicellular animals” or that nematodes are “food for soil predators”? Each spread includes a lively poem accompanied by informative and accessible “Science Notes” and colorful, comic-style illustrations about the decomposers and recyclers that comprise the world’s “brown food web.” The extensive back matter includes a glossary, poetry notes about the different forms (free verse, cinquain, clerihew, and more) that Bulion uses, hands on “investigator” activities, resources for further investigation, and a final illustration that shows the relative size of the leaf litter critters to the head of a pin. Reading aloud this collection of interest-catching poems and science notes is the perfect way to spark further inquiries about “leaf litter critters” and to make interdisciplinary connections between science and poetry in the classroom.
    MN

    Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World. Susan Hood. 2018. HarperCollins.

    Shaking Things Up Susan Hood plays with free verse, rhyme, font variety, text alignment, and repetition in her poetry collection about 14 young female “movers and shakers.” Each inspirational figure is featured on a spread. Titles such as “Secret Agent Sisters” (about Jacqueline and Eileen Nearne) and “Books, Not Bullets” (about Malala Yousafzai) will ignite curiosity and draw readers in. Poems (written in various formats from narrative poetry, to acrostic, to shape poems) and brief biographical notes are paired with full-page illustrations featuring the young women by different female illustrators and notable quotes. Back matter includes an author’s note as well as additional information and resources about the 14 women included in the text.
    —SH                                                                     

    Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy. Tony Medina. 2018. Penny Candy Books.

    Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black BoyThe poems in this collection are accompanied by illustrations by 13 different artists, including Euka Holmes, Floyd Cooper, Javaka Steptoe, and R. Gregory Christie. Touching on themes such as family, religion, community, poverty, and pride, the intent of the book is to affirm and empower African American youth. The “thirteen ways of looking at a black boy” are explored in tanka poems, which work both as singular poems and as a collective piece. Back matter includes brief biographies of poet Tony Medina and each illustrator and information about the inspiration for the title, tanka, and setting (Anacostia, the historically black neighborhood of Washington, DC).
    —LC

    Ages 12–14

    Missing Mike. Shari Green. 2018. Pajama Press.

    Missing MikeSet in Canada, this novel in verse tells the story of 11-year-old Cara, whose beloved dog Mike goes missing when the family evacuates due to a wildfire. Cara’s sadness is palpable, and her descriptions of the setting are moving. “Ever since smoke moved in / and draped the world / in gloomy gray / it hasn’t felt like July / even though the heat / and school vacation / said it was.”  Cara can’t stop worrying about Mike. Readers learn how Mike came to live with Cara and what her life was like before the wildfire. The heart of this story is whether or not Cara will be reunited with Mike, if he’s survived the wildfire. It’s is also a story about the meaning of home as Cara, who is obsessed with crossword puzzles, reflects on all the different words she learns for home while living through the wildfire. These varied ways of thinking about home are key to Cara and her community’s survival.  
    —LC

    World Make Way: New Poems Inspired by Art from the Metropolitan Museum. Lee Bennett Hopkins (Ed.). 2018. Abrams.

    World Make Way This impressive collection of ekphrastic poems by 18 contemporary children’s poets, inspired by works of art on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is a true celebration of the transformative power of art and words. On each spread, readers will draw inspiration from the poetic interpretation appearing alongside a famous work of art. The synergetic interplay between art and poetry will ignite further reflection and emotional response. The book is introduced with a quote from Leonardo Da Vinci—“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen”—and an informative foreword by editor Lee Bennett Hopkins. Back matter includes notes about the poets and artists, credits for the poetry and works of art, and an index. Teachers may want to encourage students to further explore writing inspired by art.
    —MN

    Ages 15+

    For Every One, Jason Reynolds. 2018. Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    For Every One For Every One is a combination poem and letter by Jason Reynolds that speaks directly to young people, more specifically to young dreamers and young writers. “Dreams don’t have timelines, / deadlines, /and aren’t always in / straight lines.” The tone is reflective and conversational, and readers will feel like he is speaking directing to them. The front endpaper includes repeated “To:” and “From:” lines, suggesting readers pass the book along. Typography is manipulated throughout the book; the poems are presented in a font that looks like they have been typewritten while the titles and interludes have more of a hand-lettered look with shaded backgrounds. The book does seem ideal for gift giving at times of great accomplishment such as graduations, but the poems are not nostalgic or overly sentimental. Instead, they are honest and complicated in a way that teenagers will resonate with teenagers.
    —LC

    Mary Napoli is an associate professor at Penn State Harrisburg, where she coordinates the Master of Education in Literacy Education program and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in children’s literature and literacy methods. Lesley Colabucci is an associate professor of Early, Middle, and Exceptional Education at Millersville University of Pennsylvania. She teaches classes in children’s literature at the graduate and undergraduate level. Her research interests include multicultural children’s literature and responses to literature. Skye Hisiro is an elementary classroom teacher in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and a recent graduate from Penn State Harrisburg’s Master of Education in Literacy Education program.

    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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