Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Book of the Week: Please Excuse This Poem

Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation

by Brett Fletcher Lauer and Lynn Melnick eds

Published by Penguin, 2015

304 pages

ISBN: 9780670014798

Age 14 and older

The task of selecting 100 poems and poets for this anthology must have felt both limiting and liberating. Limiting because if these poems are any example—and they surely are—the talent pool of young poets in America is deep and diverse. That isn’t a surprise, but it must have made the number 100 feel like a huge challenge at times. Yet as hard as choosing must have been, 100 poems also allowed for remarkable inclusiveness. The result isn’t at all forced. Instead, the work as a whole feels like a gathering you might find in any large city, and certainly across America: multicultural and diverse in every sense of the words. The poets’ experiences and observations here are always personal, sometimes intimate, sometimes deeply unsettling. The poems themselves are often thick with images and full of surprises. These selections are more challenging as a whole than what is often found in young adult anthologies (a genre that has languished in recent years). At the same time, across the offerings are poems that will invite readers easily in, and which poems those are will inevitably vary from one reader to the next. It’s impossible to not come away from such a rich collection appreciative not only of the poets’ talent, but of the ways language is flexible enough to be bent and shaped and crafted to speak so many distinct and powerful truths. And for young adults whose inclination is to write poetry themselves, it’s impossible not to come away from this volume with words—their own words—sounding.   © Cooperative Children's Book Center

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Book of the Week: My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay

My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay

by Cari Best

Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Published by Farrar Straus Giroux, 2015

32 pages

ISBN: 978-0-374-38819-5

Ages 4-8

Zulay, who is blind, wants to be treated like the other kids in her elementary classroom. And mostly, she is. She and her three best friends (one white, one Asian American and one African American, like Zulay) help one another in class and play together during recess. When the other students go to gym, though, Zulay has to work with Ms. Turner, who is teaching her to walk with a cane. Zulay doesn’t want to use a cane because it makes her stand out as different. When their teacher announces an upcoming Field Day, however, Zulay is determined to run a race in her new pink shoes, and this motivates her to work hard with Ms. Turner so she will be able to participate. The training pays off and she is able to run around the track using her cane, with Ms. Turner at her side. Inspired by a real child the author met on a school visit in New York City, the story is refreshingly realistic. Vanessa Brantley-Newton’s spirited illustrations show uniformed students in a public school where accommodation is shown as an integral part of their inclusive community. The name labels tacked to the desks of all twenty-two students in Zulay’s classroom, for example, are written in both print and Braille.  (KTH) © Cooperative Children's Book Center

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Book of the Week: In Mary's Garden

In Mary's Garden

by Tina Kügler and Carson Kügler

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015

32 pages

ISBN: 978-0-544-27220-0

Ages 4-8

As a child, Mary Nohl helped her father build a house along the shore of Lake Michigan just north of Milwaukee and was “happiest when her hands were busy making, building, creating things.” Mary grew up to travel all over the world and was captivated by the art in the places she visited. When she came back home to the house she’d helped build, she began to collect found objects on the beach, with the help of her dogs Sassafras and Basil. The things she gathered were part of something bigger—a creature she could see her in imagination and soon set about bringing into being. From cement and supports, “odds and ends, bits and bobs,” a “magnificent creature” emerged in her yard. Wisconsin natives Tina and Carson Kügler introduce young children to an unusual and brilliant artist in this engaging picture book look at one dimension of Nohl’s immense creative outpouring. A note provides additional information about Nohl’s extraordinary art --her home and her yard were her canvas--and efforts to preserve it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Book of the Week: Tiger Boy by Mitali Perkins

Tiger Boy

by Mitali Perkins

Illustrated by Jamie Hogan

Published by Charlesbridge, 2015

144 pages

ISBN: 978-1-58089-660-3

Ages 7-10

Neel lives on one of the Sundarban islands off the coast of Bangladesh. Neel’s father has always said it’s important to protect the land and the tigers, so Neel is dismayed when Baba agrees to work for wealthy Mr. Gupta hunting a tiger cub that escaped from a nearby refuge. Everyone knows Mr. Gupta wants to sell the cub on the black market. But hardworking Baba needs extra money to hire a tutor to help Neel prepare for an upcoming scholarship exam. Neel doesn’t care about the scholarship; he has no desire to leave the island for further schooling. He does care about the little cub, however, so he and his older sister, Rupa, who wishes she could go to school, are determined to find the cub before anyone else, even Baba, and return it to the refuge. The sense of urgency that propels Neel and Rupa’s hunt for the cub creates the perfect amount of tension in an engaging story wonderfully grounded in Neel’s point of view and his experiences in his family and community. Their effort to save the cub helps Neel understand how furthering his education is one means of helping protect the place he lives. Just the right amount of information about the complexities of economic and environmental issues is seamlessly incorporated into this warm, lively chapter book featuring occasional illustrations and a satisfying and believable ending. An author’s note tells more about the islands and their environmental and economic struggles. (MS)  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Dessert

by Emily Jenkins

Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Schwartz and Wade Books, 2015
36 pages   4-8 years

Stretching across time, place and situation, four parent-child pairs make blackberry fool in this entertaining and educational look at changes in technology and culture. While the simple recipe, the delight in the dessert, and the obvious love between parent and child remain constant through the four centuries, the means for making the dessert as well as the lifestyles of families and communities change radically. The book begins in 1710 in Lyme, England, where a mother and her daughter pick wild blackberries, whip cream with a whisk made of wooden sticks, chill the dessert outside and enjoy the dessert at the family dinner. In 1810 in Charleston, South Carolina, an enslaved mother and daughter pick berries in the plantation garden, whisk the cream, chill the blackberry fool, and serve the master’s family. The mother and daughter taste the dessert by sharing the scrapings of the mixing bowl. In 1910, a mother and daughter in Boston buy berries, beat the cream with a manual, metal mixer, and store the dessert in the kitchen icebox. Finally, in San Diego in 2010, a boy and his father zip by the market for cream and berries, find an Internet recipe, and whip the cream with a powerful electric mixer. They then gather friends for a festive meal. There is much for adults and children alike to enjoy and discuss in this beautiful and well-researched book, from kitchen tools, food storage, and work to style of dress, family relationships, and leisure. Both Jenkins and Blackall offer thorough and thoughtful author and illustrator notes and cover the necessity yet difficulty of representing slavery in a history of blackberry fool. A blackberry fool recipe is sure to tempt readers to make and taste this fine dessert. (ET)  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

Friday, March 13, 2015

Book of the Week

Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise

by Sean Taylor

Illustrated by Jean Jullien

Published by Candlewick Press, 2015

48 pages

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7578-3

Ages 4-8

Unconventional Hoot Owl concocts one outrageous costume after another as he attempts to bag his evening meal. But just as his carrot disguise doesn’t fool a rabbit, his ornamental birdbath get-up fails to result in a pigeon dinner. Undaunted, Hoot Owl moves from one lost opportunity to the next, finally nailing an inanimate pepperoni pizza while wearing the white jacket and toque of a waiter, complete with a mustache penciled below his beak. Despite his repeated failures, this bird of prey remains unfailingly confident (“I swoop through the bleak blackness like a wolf in the air”) as he invokes his flamboyant descriptive powers (“The shadowy night stretches away forever, as black as burnt toast.”) Bold black outlines and saturated, flat colors add dramatic flair to Hoot Owl’s nighttime escapades, while his melodramatic prose extends the humor of his plight. After scarfing his pizza, Hoot Owl flies off “into the dark enormousness of the night. […] And the world can sleep again.” (MVL) © Cooperative Children's Book Center

Monday, March 2, 2015

CCBC Diversity Logs on Pinterest

screen cap of CCBC Pinterest page

 For those of you interested in keeping up to date with new books by and about people of color, the CCBC now maintains a Pinterest site with a visual record, CCBC Diversity Logs.

In addition to books by and about African Americans, American Indians, Asian Pacific Americans and Latinos, we will also keep track there of three other categories of books we're frequently asked about:
  • Books featuring characters with disabilities
  • Books set in the Middle East, or about characters of Middle Eastern heritage set elsewhere
  • Books with LGBTQIA characters 
As with our diversity logs in general, not every book noted is recommended by the CCBC. It's just a record of what we're seeing. We will, however, include a link to any reviews or discussion the CCBC posts for the books included in the diversity log.

(Please note that you do need to have a Pinterest account to access the content but you can sign up for free.)