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Posts from February 2015

Soulprint: Megan Miranda

Book: Soulprint
Author: Megan Miranda
Pages: 368
Age Range: 12 and up

Soulprint by Megan Miranda is a compelling young adult thriller with a thought-provoking premise. Soulprint features an alternate reality in which scientists have discovered a way to uniquely identify souls. When someone dies, their soul is reborn in a new baby that day. This can be, and is, tracked, even though people do not retain memorize of the former lives of their souls. 17-year-old Alina Chase has spent her entire life as a prisoner, held captive by the sins of her soul's prior lifetime. When mysterious benefactors help her to escape, Alina must uncover a number of mysteries before she will have any chance to actually be free. 

I read Soulprint in just a couple of days, finding it a fast-paced and intriguing story. For the most part, I was reading quickly, to find out what would happen next to Alina (who spends much of the book in one form or peril or another). But I would sometimes stop and ponder the underlying questions posed by Miranda's world. If you could learn of the past lives that your soul had lived, would you want to? Would you leave anything behind for your future selves? How much of who we are is nature (inherent) vs. nurture? Would your soul recognize, and fall for, your true love, in a future life? Here's Alina:

"But I know that's impossible. Souls have no memory. But I wonder, for the first time, if they can still be drawn to each other. If we wander restlessly until we find one another again. If some of us are full of a yearning, driving us to keep moving, searching for something we can't quite name."  (Chapter 7, ARC)

I found Alina a plausible character. Living as a (relatively pampered) prisoner, with no close social ties, leaves her with a certain lack of social skills. She constantly scours her environment, looking for things that can be converted into weapons. But she is achingly vulnerable, too, wondering about her absent mother, and missing the one caretaker who was ever truly kind to her.

I also liked that Alina has an affinity for math and seeing patterns, while another female character is a top-notch hacker. These are young women who use their brains to solve complex, technical problems. Good stuff!

Beyond that, I will say no more. Soulprint is a story to experience without knowing too much about the details. Recommended for fans of speculative fiction and/or thrillers, particular books in which someone goes on the run. There is some violence, and also some romance, but the real story is Alina's figuring out things about herself. Soulprint is well worth a look!

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books (@BWKids) 
Publication Date: February 3, 2015
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

© 2015 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: February 13

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics include book awards, book lists (many!), the Cybils awards, diversity, growing bookworms, literacy-related events, reading, publishing, social media, libraries, and schools. And speaking of the Cybils Awards, stay tuned. Cybils winners will be announced TOMORROW, February 14th. I promise you, they are fabulous!

Awards

Book Awards: A defense of not including kid appeal in the criteria for the #ALAyma from @greenbeanblog http://ow.ly/IDOmE #kidlit

RT @SevenImp: The 2015 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award winners: http://www.ezra-jack-keats.org/2015-book-award-press-release/ … @EJKeats

2015 Kate Greenaway Medal picture book prize longlist - in pictures from @GdnChildrensBks via @100scopenotes http://ow.ly/ITJ51

Nice #kidlit Awards Roundup @sljournal | The Cook Prize, Edgar Nominees, Sydney Taylor Award, and More http://ow.ly/IDTH6

Rounding up the 2015 Mock Printz Awards @bkshelvesofdoom http://ow.ly/IDPxx #ALAyma #YALit

The CILIP Carnegie Medal 2015 longlist was announced, via @eurocrime http://ow.ly/IXxmB #kidlit #YALit

2015 Notable Children's Books announced by @alscblog http://ow.ly/IXy9f via @tashrow #kidlit #YALit

Book Lists

At Jean Little Library: Jennifer shares her verdict on several Valentine's Day Board Books http://ow.ly/ITHaH #BookList #KidLit

17 Picture Books for Chinese New Year from @rosemondcates http://ow.ly/IDNAI #BookList #kidlit

WOMEN MAKE PICTURE BOOKS TOO: the 2014 edition… from @LaurelSnyder via @bkshelvesofdoom http://ow.ly/IDQ8t #kidlit

15 Guessing Game Picture Books from @mrskatiefitz http://ow.ly/IXyTQ #kidlit#BookList

A timely @missrumphius Thematic Book List for Northeasterners: Extreme Weather http://ow.ly/ITIVf #kidlit #nonfiction

Another useful Thematic Book List from @missrumphius | Weather (An Introduction) http://ow.ly/IDLyl #kidlit #nonfiction

Rhyming Books that You Can SING! (and why you should) from @ThisReadingMom http://ow.ly/IDPoY #BookList #literacy

Math Books for Preschoolers, a #BookList from @momandkiddo http://ow.ly/IDNiG #kidlit

9 Easy Reader Series Starring Boys from @mrskatiefitz http://ow.ly/IDOV4 #kidlit #BookList

A fun #BookList | 10 Adventure Early Chapter Books For Kids age 5-8 from @momandkiddo http://ow.ly/ILVDI

Some series recommendations for newer readers for after they finish Magic Treehouse Books by @wendy_lawrence http://ow.ly/IDMgh #kidlit

A #BookList for building empathy in students, from Stacy Tell @HornBookhttp://ow.ly/IXxOr #kidlit

Here's a fun #BookList | 10 Books for Kids: All About Pizza! @growingbbb http://ow.ly/ILSX3 #kidlit

Ten Books for Fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid by @GigiMcAreads @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/ILMSx #kidlit #BookList

Top 10 children's books on death and bereavement selected by Holly Webb @GdnChildrensBks http://ow.ly/IDR1r #kidlit via @tashrow

Tuesday Ten @TesseractViews features Otherworld Fantasies (stories taking place completely in another world) http://ow.ly/ITIlG #kidlit

The latest Stacked Get Genrefied post: #YALit Urban Fantasy http://ow.ly/ITIDL @catagator @kimberlymarief

USBBY Presents Its 10th Annual Outstanding International Books List | @usbby @sljournal http://ow.ly/IQyLk #kidlit

Graphic Nonfiction "is a surefire hit" for Teens says @DibblyFresh in @sljournal (w/ #BookList ) http://ow.ly/IQysO

The 2015 Amelia Bloomer list of recommended feminist literature for kids has been released. See @bkshelvesofdoom http://ow.ly/IPoTq

Roundup of @YALSA 's 2015 booklists plus links to relevant reviews from @bkshelvesofdoom http://ow.ly/IDNLO #YALit

A 2015 #SummerReading List for Visually Impaired Young Patrons — @fuseeight @NYPL http://ow.ly/IXBb4 #KidLit

Cybils

#Cybils winners will be announced on Saturday, Feb. 14 in all categories. Stay tuned for amazing, kid-friendly books! http://ow.ly/IUJBA

Today's Featured #Cybils Review: Pointe by @brandycolbert reviewed by @whimsicallyours http://ow.ly/ITFFb #YALit

Today's Featured #Cybils Review: Popular: Vintage Wisdom for the Modern Geek by @MayaVanWagenen reviewed by @scharle4 http://ow.ly/IPomW

Today's Featured #Cybils Review is Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty, reviewed by @carriebrowntx http://ow.ly/ILX7S

Today's Featured #Cybils Review is Death Sworn by Leah Cypress, reviewed by @ceceliabedelia http://ow.ly/IXv6S #YALit

Today's Featured #Cybils #GraphicNovel Review: Shadow Hero by @geneluenyang reviewed by @aquafortis http://ow.ly/IDRCm

Yesterday's Featured #Cybils #BookApp Review: Kalley’s Machine Plus Cats by RocketWagon, blurbed by @colbysharp http://ow.ly/IDPcB

#BookLIst of #Cybils Finalists featuring African American protags/themes/authors for Black History Month @aquafortis http://ow.ly/IM2n4

Diversity

Selection is Privilege, says @amyeileenk responding to librarians who don't select #diverse books for communities http://ow.ly/ILNSe

Tackling #Diversity: One Writer's Story ("I'm limited by my experiences") by James Preller @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/IDMKe

Stacked: 7 More 2015 YA Books with #Diversity on the Cover http://ow.ly/IXzUX @catagator #YALit

Events + Programs

IBGDposterLARGE-580x410Coming Soon, International Book Giving Day 2015! Suggestions + links from @BookChook http://ow.ly/ILP07 #BookGivingDay 2/14/15

At The Brown Bookshelf, information about the 23rd annual African American Children’s Book Fair http://ow.ly/IDQld #Diversity #kidlit

Comic Book Stores to Launch Children's Book Week with a Bang. Free Comic Book Day = May 2 http://ow.ly/IDT25 @PublishersWkly

Growing Bookworms

Rekindling her blog, @donalynbooks shares research supporting the importance of kids' independent reading http://ow.ly/ILQiO #literacy

#RaisingReaders Monday: Reading with Kids Gets Graphic | @kateywrites http://ow.ly/ILVTd #kidlit #GraphicNovels

Books + Strategies for 8yo Boy Reluctant Readers @PragmaticMom http://ow.ly/ILTh0 #GraphicNovels #nonfiction

5 Graphic Novels we Loved! + benefits to reading #GraphicNovels from @StackingBks http://ow.ly/IXAPQ #RaisingReaders

Making Homework More Relevant and Useful for Learning by @TrevorHCairneyhttp://ow.ly/IXzt5 #literacy

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

Calling Illustrators … @SevenImp reports that Ranger Rick Jr. magazine is looking for illustrators (+ fun interview) http://ow.ly/ITGKX

Detailed piece on Harper Lee Bombshell: How News of Book Related to ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Unfolded from @WSJ http://ow.ly/IM5Nx

Literary Hub Is a New Home for Book Lovers, "one-stop shop of bookish aggregation" says @WSJ http://ow.ly/IM5CE

For bloggers, thoughts on book reviews and criticism from @bkshelvesofdoom + her Twitter PLN http://ow.ly/IXyxW

Stacked: The Rise of Suicide in YA Fiction and Exploring Personal Biases in Reading from @catagator http://ow.ly/ILRtn #YALit

Schools and Libraries

Nice! "reasons to make books available to young people in school libraries, + to encourage their use" @AwfullyBigBlog http://ow.ly/ILSzq

Social Media

Some suggestions for new users (especially educators) for Reaching Out on Twitter from @cathymere http://ow.ly/ILN9N

© 2015 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.


Maple: Lori Nichols

Book: Maple
Author: Lori Nichols
Pages: 32
Age Range: 3-5

Lori Nichols' Maple is a quiet little book about a girl who grows up with her namesake tree, a maple. Her parents planted the tree in her honor "when she was still a whisper." As she grows older, the tree functions as friend and playmate (well, sort of). She covers it with a jacket when it seems cold. She makes it a snow-friend. Best of all, she loves to lie beneath it, watching the leaves dance overhead. But life gets even better when a new tree is planted nearby, and a new baby sister is born, a little girl named Willow. 

I love the understated humor of Maple. Like this:

"Sometimes, when Maple was noisy
(which was a lot),
her parents sent her outside to play.
Her tree didn't mind if she was loud.

Maple would sing to her tree...

and sway for her tree...

and sometimes even pretend to be a tree!"

The above text is accompanied by vignettes showing Maple singing, swaying, and, of course, pretending to be a tree, leaves in hair, posture stiff. My favorite image shows her holding on to the tree, singing, mouth wide open, arms outstretched, clearly singing with her whole heart. She's priceless. 

There's also a wonderful picture in which Maple has surrounded the new little tree with her special toy friends, and learns, hands to cheeks, that "something really surprising happened" (her mother's rounded belly).

But it's the scenes in which Maple takes care of her new baby sister that convey the most heart Therefore, I was delighted to learn recently that there is a sequel to Maple, called Maple & Willow Together. It is on my wish list. 

Maple the girl is an independent child who can entertain herself (with the help of a tree), who is happy to have a new baby sister, and who has a deep appreciation for nature. What more could anyone ask of a picture book heroine? Maple the book is a lovely little story deserving of a wide audience. Recommended for home and library use. 

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books (@PenguinKids) 
Publication Date: February 20, 2014
Source of Book: Personal copy, purchased in part for Round 1 Cybils consideration in Fiction Picture Books. All opinions are my own.

© 2015 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon and iBooks affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me: Daniel Beaty & Bryan Collier

Book: Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me
Author: Daniel Beaty
Illustrator: Bryan Collier
Pages: 40
Age Range: 4-8

Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me, by Daniel Beaty and Bryan Collier, is about a boy who has a special bond with his father (illustrated by a game that they play in which the father Knock Knocks on the door each morning, and the son pretends to be asleep). One day, however, the dad stops coming. The boy's sense of loss is palpable. He leaves his father a note, hoping that perhaps he will come while the boy is in school. And eventually, he does receive a letter in response, a letter in which his dad spells out his hopes for the son's future. The items from the letter are accompanied by images of the boy growing up, and having a family of his own, gradually becoming more hopeful, but always missing his lost father. 

The reason for the dad's absence is not spelled out in the text. However, in an author's note, Beaty indicates that the book was written in partial response to his own experience as a boy having his father incarcerated. He doesn't specifically spell that out as the boy's experience in the book, allowing Knock Knock to also speak to the experiences of kids whose fathers just leave, or even pass away. It is a very powerful story, one that too many children will be able to relate to. 

I do not plan to share Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me with my own four year old. Right now, I don't want to even put the idea into her head that there are daddies who stop coming home. When she is older, though, I would certainly like her to read it. And I think it's an important book for kids who have experienced the loss of a parent, due to whatever means, and whatever their skin color and socioeconomic status. Although the dad doesn't ever come home in Knock Knock, the ending, showing the boy as a loving parent himself, is hopeful. 

Beaty uses repeats of the "KNOCK KNOCK" to lend a certain lyricism to the text in the later part of the book. Like this:

"KNOCK KNOCK down the doors that I could not.

KNOCK KNOCK
to open new doors of your dreams.

KNOCK KNOCK for me, 
for as long as you become your best,
the best of me still lives in you."

In the earlier parts of the book, we hear the boy's voice more directly: "Papa, come home, 'cause I miss you." But throughout the book, we see the boy captured in Collier's watercolor and collage illustrations. His sadness as he looks at a hat of his father's, left on the kitchen table. His calendar, with the days of his father's absence crossed off. His stowing away of the precious letter from his father, next to a left-behind necktie. 

Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me is a book that will stay with readers for a long time. It's an absolute must-purchase for libraries. It is not upbeat, and probably not for the very youngest of readers, but it is important, and recommended. 

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (@LBKids) 
Publication Date: December 17, 2013
Source of Book: Library copy, checked out for Round 1 Cybils consideration in Fiction Picture Books. All opinions are my own. 

© 2015 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon and iBooks affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Literacy Milestone: Reading Collection 2 Bob Books

LiteracyMilestoneABack in October my daughter read her first Bob book. She made it through a second one, and then seemed to tire of the whole project, and the Bob books were set aside. Of course we continued reading books aloud to her. She has also been working on sight words and blended letter sounds in preschool. At home I'll sometimes point out a word here or there and ask her to guess what it is, but I mostly focus on keeping it fun.

This weekend I was reading her Cute and Cuter by Michael Townsend. There's a point late in the book in which a trash can is tipped over, and the entire content of a comic-like panel is the word "CRASH" in big, pink letters. My daughter sounded out "CRASH", and then said something about being ready to try reading again.

I said: "OK, why don't you go find one of the Bob books and we can work on that." She jettisoned the rest of Cute and Cuter and ran out of the room. But she couldn't find the Collection 1 Bob books, so she brought the ones from Collection 2 (which I had picked up at Costco, figuring that we would need them eventually). I figured, well, let's give it a try. And darned if she wasn't able to sound out the first book (about a Mom and Dad with 10 kids, who they for some reason place temporarily in a large bag), with only minimal help from me. 

I was both impressed by the words that she was able to sound out (including the names of the 10 kids) and surprised that even when the same word appeared on nearly every page, she still had to sound it out every time (e.g. "kids"). For adults, you kind of figure that once you've learned a word, you'll recognize it 30 seconds later, but this is not necessarily true for new readers (or at least not for mine). It's all a learning experience for me, that's for sure. But we are having fun. And this afternoon my daughter was quite eager to show her babysitter her skill in reading this new book. 

My plan is to continue to take my cues from her. If she wants to work on reading more Bob books (or anything else), I'll be happy to work with her on it. But if, after this little step forward, she prefers to step back into the comfort of just being read to for a couple of months, then we'll do that, too. There is no rush. 

© 2015 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: February 6

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include the ALA Youth Media Awards, book lists, the Cybils Awards, diverse books, growing bookworms, reading, publishing, blogging, parenting, and schools. This week's post is a bit light this week because I've been away for a couple of days, and not able to share links. I am saving them, though, and will have a banner collection for you next time. 

Awards

Betsy @fuseeight has helpfully rounded up the results of a variety of mock Newbery, Caldecott, etc. awards http://ow.ly/IeA1v #ALAyma

The #ALAyma made 2015:The Year of the Comic declares @delightchildbks http://ow.ly/IrmBs #kidlit

RT @SLJournal Kathleen T. Horning Named 2015 ALSC Distinguished Service Award Recipient http://ow.ly/IqFgU #alamw15

Biblio File: #Diversity Wins at the Youth Media Awards reports Jennie #ALAyma http://ow.ly/Inl8X #kidlit

The PreGame/PostGame ALA Youth Media Awards Videos and Some Vids From the Winners As Well — @fuseeight http://ow.ly/InkNO #ALAyma

A celebration of the range of #DiverseBooks + #Poetry in today's #ALAyma from @missrumphius http://ow.ly/Inj3b

Book Lists

Top 10 Read-Alouds for Students w/ Special Needs (engaging texts w/ some silliness) by Aimee Owens @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/Ina47

11 Chapter Books for Black History Month selected by @momandkiddo http://ow.ly/IniwI #kidlit

5 Books to Celebrate Black History Month recommended by @FirstBook http://ow.ly/IrUy6  #kidlit

Rhyming and #Poetry Books for Older Readers recommended by @ThisReadingMom http://ow.ly/Ininj #kidlit

Stacked: On The Radar: 8 YA Books for February that readers will be looking for selected by @catagator http://ow.ly/IndsE #YALit

Cybils

Today's Featured #Cybils Review is Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by @varshabajaj reviewed by @LogCabinLibrary http://ow.ly/Irmfl

Today's Featured #Cybils Review is Jupiter Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra by Jason Fry, reviewed by @charlotteslib http://ow.ly/InkFN

Today's Featured #Cybils Review is Dear Wandering Wildebeest by @irene_latham reviewed by @MargaretGSimon http://ow.ly/IewTF #poetry

Diversity

#WeNeedDiverseBooks Authors Take on Publishing, Reader Prejudice – @Flavorwire http://ow.ly/IrNry via @PWKidsBookshelf

Depression in #YALit and the Latin@ Community by Cindy L. Rodriguez @LatinosInKidLit http://ow.ly/Ini0l

On the value of Seeing Ourselves and Seeing Others in the Pages of the Books We Read by @JessLifTeach @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/InfQs

Friend Friday @KirbyLarson | Stephanie Kammeraad on Multicultural Books: Why Do They Matter? http://ow.ly/IezjF #diversity

Fifteen Diverse Authors You Should Resolve to Read in 2015 | @LEEandLOW via @tashrow http://ow.ly/Iey7D #diversity

Growing Bookworms

Encouraging from @TelegraphNews | Forget digital: children are still into books and board games http://ow.ly/IrRsf @PWKidsBookshelf

Reading with Little Miss Muffet: January 2015: tips + favorites from @mrskatiefitz 's experiences w/ toddler daughter http://ow.ly/Inb5H

Sherry @semicolonblog is hooked on the podcast #ReadAloud Revival by Sarah MacKenzie http://ow.ly/In9r3 #GrowingBookworms

#RaisingReaders: The Example of an Older Child shows "reading is fun, enjoyable, and exciting" says @SunlitPages http://ow.ly/IeyFg

Kidlitosphere + Blogging

The Niblings are now Bigger + Better w/ additions of @MitaliPerkins + @bottomshelfbks http://ow.ly/IrmE1 reports @SevenImp @TheNiblings4

How to Protect Yourself Online if You’re a Book Blogger by @writeawaybliss http://ow.ly/IncwF via @charlotteslib

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

So incredibly cool! Harper Lee to Release New Novel featuring grown up Scout http://ow.ly/IrmqA via @rosemondcates

Much truth here: @TesseractViews shares her five least favorite Plot Pet Peeves involving Narrative Twists http://ow.ly/IeADF

Walter Dean Myers: 'Once I Began To Read, I Began To Exist' @HuffPostBooks via @tashrow http://ow.ly/Iexz9

Parenting

Roald Dahl's plea for parents to vaccinate their kids, 24 years after measles death of his daughter http://ow.ly/InyLo via @neilhimself

Schools and Libraries

Oral & Repeated Reading is Important and Can be Fun, some tips for the classroom from @TrevorHCairney http://ow.ly/IneLP #literacy

© 2015 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.


Have You Seen My Dragon? Steve Light

Book: Have You Seen My Dragon?
Author: Steve Light
Pages: 48
Age Range: 4-8

Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light is part counting book, part seek-and-find, and part dragon story. A small boy leaves his apartment building, asking (the reader? the doorman?) "Have you seen my dragon?" The dragon ("1 Dragon"), shown in green against a black and white background, is hiding not very effectively behind a potted tree. But the boy doesn't see, and sets out across the city to look for the dragon.

On the next page, the boy thinks: "Maybe he got hungry and stopped for a hot dog." A little banner near the top of the page announces: "2 Hot dogs". There are two hot dogs shown on the page, in brown, against, again, black and white background. The dragon is visible (not colored) atop the hot dog stand, again not seen by the boy. And so on, up until the boy finally finds the dragon, on a page spread with "20 lanterns." 

Light's illustrations cover various aspects of cities, from buses to shopping districts to monkeys in a zoo, from cathedrals to bridges to taxi cabs. He plays with perspective a bit. Some scenes are shown sideways, while others are a mix of upside down, right side up, and sideways. There is sometimes a path for the boy to follow across an image, though not always. The items that the reader is supposed to look for are never very difficult to find (given that they are the only colored items on each page), making this more a book to practice counting than to truly seek and find. But there are myriad details on each page, to reward close observation (as in Zephyr's Flight, by the same author, though the feel of the two books is quite different). 

Have You Seen My Dragon? is a fun book for kids who enjoy counting, and for kids who like poring over detailed illustrations. There's not much of a narrative story to it, and it's not a very good bedtime or group storytime book (requiring too much engagement with the pictures). But it's full of visual details that linger in the reader's memory, and is an ode to cities, too. Libraries will definitely want to take a look.  

Publisher: Candlewick (@Candlewick)
Publication Date: April 8, 2014
Source of Book: Library copy, checked out for Round 1 Cybils consideration in Fiction Picture Books. All opinions are my own. 

© 2015 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon and iBooks affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Growing Bookworms Newsletter: February 3

JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. I currently send the newsletter out every two weeks.

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have four book reviews (picture book through young adult), two installments of my new #KidLitFaves series, and two posts with literacy and reading links that I shared on Twitter recently. In one of the KidLitFaves posts I also link to my reviews of honorees in the ALA Youth Media Awards, which were announced yesterday

I'm considering adding another new feature, something like a brief Growing Bookworms Tip of the Week, which I will cull from my experience as well as my reading of books and articles. What say you readers, any interest? Or any other way I could make this newsletter more useful to you as you attempt to grow bookworms? 

Reading Update: In the last two weeks I completed one middle grade, two young adult, and two adult titles. I read/listened to:

  • Jennifer A. Nielsen: Mark of the Thief (Praetor War, Book 1). Scholastic. Middle Grade/Middle School. Completed January 25, 2015. My review.
  • Victoria Laurie: When. Hyperion Books. Young Adult. Completed January 22, 2015. My review.
  • Tiffany Schmidt: Hold Me Like a Breath: Once Upon a Crime Family. Bloomsbury USA Children's Books. Young Adult. Completed January 24, 2015. Review to come, closer to publication. 
  • Rhys Bowen: Her Royal Spyness: Queen of Hearts. Berkley. Adult Mystery. Completed January 24, 2015, on MP3. I'm not finished listening all published titles in this series, and have moved on to ...
  • Orson Scott Card: Ender's Shadow. Tor Books. Teen/Adult Science Fiction. Completed February 2, 2015, on MP3. This was a re-read of a book I read and enjoyed years ago. I'm now re-hooked, and expect that I'll listen to the other books in the "Shadow" series (some of which I've listened to and some of which I read in print). 

There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake (almost finished!) and The Sweet Spot: How To Find Your Groove at Home and Work by Christine Carter. I'm listening to Shadow of the Hegemon by Orson Scott Card

The books my husband and I have been reading to my daughter can be found here. She remains quite attached to the Berenstain Bears books, requesting new ones and re-reading old ones. She's also quite attached to books about Batman all of a sudden - which I am ok with because they demonstrate surprisingly robust vocabularies. She still gets excited whenever new picture books or early readers arrive in the mail, and she wants to read them immediately. But it is harder and harder for a new book to become a favorite, because she is also loyal to titles that she knows and loves. It remains an adventure!

What are you and your family reading these days? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2015 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Louise Loves Art: Kelly Light

Book: Louise Loves Art
Author: Kelly Light
Pages: 40
Age Range: 4-8

Louise Loves Art by Kelly Light is about a little girl who loves to draw and who also loves her copycat little brother, Art. As is evident from the cover image, Louise Loves Art is a bright, cheerful tale. Louise is occupied with her drawing, determined to produce a masterpiece. She largely ignores Art's attempts to gain her attention (though in a benign way). But when Louise leaves her masterpiece lying on the floor, within range of toddler Art, well, the situation gets a bit sticky. Happily, however, Louise is astute enough in the end discern which Art she loves best, and respond accordingly. 

Light's text captures the tone of busy kindergartner (or someone in that approximate age range). Louise is enthusiastic about everything. Like this:

"I love art! 
It's my imagination on the outside."

And this:

"I've done it.
So fierce! So feline! So fantastic...
a masterpiece!"

But it's the illustrations (black Prismacolor pencils and Photoshop) that make Louise Loves Art a delight. Louise is round-faced and spiky-banged, with enormous red glasses. Not quite realistic, but utterly likable. Her exaggerated expressions and postures capture her excitement and (when her masterpiece is cut up) dismay. 

Light uses minimal color in the illustrations, but highlights important things (like the glasses) with red. She dots each page with details, like the humorous sketches on Louise's wall (many signed with a red L), and the red glasses that Art draws and cuts out (to be like his sister). In the hallway, unremarked, readers may notice a picture of a younger Louise, still with red glasses, holding a baby Art. A subtle hint that yes, she does love her brother. 

I'm not sure that the ending of Louise Loves Art is 100% realistic, but it is sure to make readers (and parents) smile. Louise Loves Art celebrates the joy of creation, and also celebrates sibling relationships. Reviewed from a library copy, this one is now on my wish list. Highly recommended. 

Publisher: Balzer + Bray (@HarperChildrens
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
Source of Book: Library copy, checked out for Round 1 Cybils consideration in Fiction Picture Books. All opinions are my own. 

© 2015 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon and iBooks affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


#KidLitFaves: Recent Children's and YA Books that Bloggers Love: Feb. 2

KidLitFavesLogoResizeThis is a relatively new series here at Jen Robinson's Book Page. As I travel about the kidlitosphere, encountering reviews by other bloggers (people I trust, and generally have been following for some time), I take note of those reviews in which it is clear that the reviewer really, really likes the book. I share links to those reviews on Twitter (with hashtag #KidLitFaves) and Facebook and round them up here. Hopefully over time this will become a useful resource. I welcome your feedback! 

Picture Books:

Betsy Bird from A Fuse #8 Production is pretty thrilled with Mr. Squirrel and the Moon by Sebastian Meschenmoser, calling it "truly delightful" and "delicious". She says:

"Taking a trope we’ve all seen before and then improving upon it, this is a lovely story of fur, false accusations (or fear thereof), guts, glutted field mice, and glory. Everything, in short, that a good children’s picture book should be."

Early Readers/Early Chapter Books:

When Jennifer Wharton from Jean Little Library gives a positive "verdict" to a book, you can count on it being worth a look (particularly for library purchase). Reviewing the beginning chapter book fantasy title Beasts of Olympus: Beast Keeper (first in a new series) by Lucy Coats she says:

"I enjoyed reading it and can't wait to introduce it to my patrons. Ideal for strong 2nd grade readers up through 4th grade, although older and younger kids will enjoy it as well. Highly recommended."

Middle Grade:

Karen Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads is my go-to source for middle grade/middle school book recommendations. In a recent Middle Grade Monday post she recommends what sound like two fun titles: Masterminds by Gordon Korman and Countdown Zero (The Codename Conspiracy) by Chris Rylander. Of Masterminds she says:

"Really don't want to give away the twist in this because it was SO good, and much darker than the beginning of the book would indicate.... Korman is awesome. This book was not only exciting, but thought provoking as well. Definitely buying a copy and waiting avidly for the sequel!"

And of Countdown Zero she concludes:

"Perfect middle grade novel ... Rylander fully embraces the joys and possibilities of being an unlikely teen spy. I have two copies of Codename Zero (the first book in the series) because it's such a popular read with so many of my students."

Young Adult:

Charlotte Taylor from Charlotte's Library tends to be relatively understated in her reviews. And she reads a lot. So I take notice when she says:

"Stranger, by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith (Viking Juvenile, YA, Nov. 2014)--is the most beautifully character-focused adventure set in a damaged Earth I've read in years." 

Closing Thoughts:

Speaking of Charlotte Taylor, another great source for collected reviews is her weekly roundup of links to middle grade science fiction and fantasy reviews from around the Kidlitosphere. Here's the one from January 25th.  

ALA Awards

The ALA Youth Media Awards were announced today. There are lots of great titles among the honorees, including a good representation of diversity and poetry. Here is the official ALA press release listing the winners in the various categories. While not guaranteed to be kid-friendly in the way that Cybils honorees are, the ALA-selected titles are a good source of high-quality children's and young adult literature. I reviewed the Caldecott Medal Winner: The Adventures of Beekle: An Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat just last month. I also reviewed Caldecott Honor winner Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen.  

I also reviewed the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award winner: The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus, by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet

And finally, I reviewed both the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner, You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant, and the two honor titles in this distinguished beginning reader category. I loved both Mr. Putter & Tabby Turn the Page by Cynthia Rylant and Arthur Howard and Waiting Is Not Easy by Mo Willems

But do check out the full ALA press release for all of the award-winning titles.

Two other notes about these review excerpts:

  1. If I have quoted from one of your reviews, and you prefer that I not do so in the future, just let me know. No worries.
  2. The book covers that I have included beside each blurb include my personal Amazon affiliate ID. If you don't want your reviews to be included in future because of this, just let me know. 

Please let me know what you think of this new feature!

© 2015 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).