Monday, October 16, 2017

Book of the Week: I Want to Be in a Scary Story



I Want to Be in a Scary Story

by Sean Taylor
Illustrated by Jean Jullien
Published by Candlewick Press, 2017
48 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7636-8953-7
Ages 3-7


Little Monster is ready to be in a scary story. The narrator begins with a dark and scary forest. “Oh my golly gosh!” says Little Monster, not quite ready for something quite that scary. The narrator changes the scene to a spooky house. “Oh my goodness me! … Oh yikes and crikes!” Finally Little Monster admits it would be better to do the scaring. Anticipation builds as Little Monster walks towards a room to scare whoever is inside … “can we maybe change this book so it’s a FUNNY story?” The back-and-forth dialogue between Little Monster, who is small and purple and wide-eyed and whose dialogue is in purple, and the unseen narrator, whose words are shown in black, is always easy to follow. So, too, are Little Monster’s emotions: sometimes what you think you want changes once you actually get it. The gentle tension shifts to the comically absurd and then back again in this begs-to-be-read-aloud picture book when Little Monster suddenly disappears and the narrator becomes increasingly worried. “Boo!” Digitally colored ink illustrations show Little Monster against white pages when talking with the narrator, and in full-color, bold, slightly comical (and maybe a teensy bit scary) scenes when part of the various stories being told. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, October 9, 2017

Book of the Week: Clayton Byrd Goes Underground



Clayton Byrd Goes Underground

by Rita Williams-Garcia
Published by Amistad / HarperCollins, 2017
176 pages
ISBN: 978-0062215918
Ages 8-12


Clayton Byrd loves playing the blues harp (harmonica) with his grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd, and other blues musicians in the park. Clayton is eagerly looking forward to the day he’ll finally get the nod from his grandfather to take a solo during one of their performances. When his grandfather dies suddenly, Clatyon’s mother is too wrapped up in her own complicated feelings to be sensitive to her son’s grief and sells Cool Papa’s belongings. Struggling in the days that follow—he keeps falling asleep in class—Clayton finally skips school to go in search of the bluesmen in the park. On the subway, he’s mesmerized by a group of kids who beatbox and dance for money. Clayton can’t help but join in on his harmonica, and the boys net their biggest take of the day when they pass the hat. While Clayton likes the younger kids in the group, the oldest teen snatches the hat Clayton is wearing, the last thing Clayton has left from Cool Papa. Determined to get it back, Clayton sticks with the group, bending notes to create a melody matched to their hip-hop beat. A marvelous author’s note on the musical origins of blues and hip-hip and her appreciation for both concludes a story about love  and grief and music and family and the importance of being heard.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Charlotte Zolotow Lecture Featuring Jason Reynolds: November 2

20th Annual Charlotte Zolotow Lecture
Featuring Jason Reynolds
Thursday, November 2, 2017
photo of Jason ReynoldsJason Reynolds burst onto the writing scene in 2014 with the publication of When I Was the Greatest, which won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award. Since then he has written seven highly acclaimed novels for children and teens, including The Boy in the Black Suit (2015), All American Boys (with Brendan Kiely) (2015), As Brave as You (2016), Ghost(2016), Miles Morales: Spider-Man (2017), Patina(2017), and Long Way Down (2017). A dynamic and compelling writer and speaker, in just four years he has become one of the brightest stars in the field of children’s and young adult literature.

The annual Charlotte Zolotow Lecture is sponsored by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with support from the Friends of the CCBC. This event is part of the 2017 Wisconsin Book Festival and is free and open to the public.
Varsity Hall, Union South, 1308 W. Dayton Street, Madison
7:30 p.m.
A 20th Anniversary Charlotte Zolotow Lecture Reception will be held prior to the lecture, beginning at 5:30, in space adjacent to the lecture hall.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Book of the Week: Town Is by the Sea



Town Is by the Sea

by Joanne Schwartz
Illustrated by Illustrated by Sydney Smith Published by Groundwood, 2017
48 pages
ISBN: 978-1-55498-871-6
Ages 6-9


A boy describes his day in the town by the sea where he lives, an accounting made extraordinary by its lyricism and its visual accompaniment. “It goes like this…” is the repeated refrain as he details each part of his day. Morning includes butterflies in his stomach when he swings up high; lunch is a baloney sandwich and carrots; in the afternoon he notices the salt-smell of the air when he stops at the graveyard overlooking the sea. Most of the ink, watercolor, and gouache illustrations have a muted palette but feel full of light and movement and convey an exceptional sense of place along with the narrative. But there is another repeated refrain: Two consecutive double-page spreads between each part of the day in which the boy takes note of how the sea looks (paintings show its expansiveness and the play of light on water), and thinks of his father at work in the coal mine beneath the sea (paintings dominated by heavy, oppressive dark bearing down on the working men). The boy notes matter-of-factly that his future will be the mine, just like his father and grandfather. But for now readers see he is simply and beautifully secure in the warmth of family and familiarity, and also the light. An author’s note explains more about the setting of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, in the 1950s. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, September 25, 2017

Book of the Week: All's Faire in Middle School



All’s Faire in Middle School

by Victoria Jamieson
Published by Dial, 2017
248 pages
ISBN: 978-0-5254-2998-2
Ages 8-13


Imogene has been home-schooled her entire life. Additionally, she’s grown up as part of the Renaissance Faire that takes place over 8 weeks every year in her Florida community. Now she’s finally getting the chance to participate in the Faire with a small role as a squire to her dad’s villainous knight. She’s also starting public school--her own choice--for the first time. Imogene’s trials and tribulations as she navigates middle school is framed in terms of a Medieval drama at the start of every chapter. (“Our heroine’s journey through the halls of middle school winds through unknown lands and unchartered territories.”) Figuring out what to wear is only the first challenge, and easy compared to the trials and tribulations of friendship. Imogene experiences the false face and slings and arrows of one popular girl in particular while also learning she, herself, is not above treachery as she tries to position herself in the social strata. Her behavior isn’t very noble at home, either. Luckily her family is marvelously grounded, not to mention wonderfully realistic. Life isn’t all Faires and fun, after all: her dad sells pools and spas as his day job while everyone pitches in at home, whether helping make crafts for the shop her mom runs at the Faire, or watching her little brother. Imogene’s dad is brown-skinned, her mom white in this entertaining and highly relatable quest in which Imogene emerges the hero of her own story—-what every kid can be. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, September 18, 2017

Book of the Week: The One Day House

The One Day House

by Julia Durango
Illustrated by Bianca Diaz
Published by Charlesbridge, 2017
32 pages
ISBN: 978-1580897099
Ages 4-8


Young Wilson is full of ideas for ways to help fix his elderly neighbor Gigi’s house: paint it orange and yellow “like the sun,” fix the windows so they’ll open, build a fence so she can have a dog, repair the steps and the chimney and the roof, plant a garden. He’d even like to fix her piano, “so you can play music again.” Across summer, fall, and winter, he shares his ideas with Gigi and others, from the ice cream man to the librarian to his classroom teacher. Gigi always makes sure Wilson knows he is already gifting her with his presence, and she clearly is not expecting young Wilson’s many ideas to come to anything, but when spring arrives, they do! Wilson’s agency is presented realistically in an engaging picture book showcasing a dreamer and do-ers. The satisfying patterned text is set again vibrant multi-media collage illustrations featuring a brown-skinned boy and his diverse, multigenerational neighborhood. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, September 11, 2017

Book of the Week: Moxie



Moxie

by Jennifer Mathieu
Published by Roaring Brook Press, 2017
336 pages
ISBN: 978-1626726352
Age 13 and older


Vivvy loves the Riot Grrrl bands and zines of her mother’s youth, but unlike her mom at 16, Vivvy is not a wave-maker or rule-breaker in their small east Texas town, until anger at the rampant sexism at her school spurs her to action. Vivvy creates an anonymous zine, Moxie, calling it out. Some of the sexist behavior is verbal, some of it physical, some of it psychological, all of it is some form of assault. New student Lucy, an avowed feminist, loves Moxie, while Vivvy’s best friend Claudia finds the word “feminist” too much and the Moxie calls to action pointless. Neither of them know Vivvy is behind the zine. New boy Seth, on whom Vivvy has a crush, sees Vivvy placing copies of Moxie in the bathrooms but he keeps her secret and romance blossoms. Moxie begins to illuminate and then bridge divides of race and class as many different girls embrace the anonymous zine and the Moxie movement slowly grows. The sexism at Vivvy’s school—insidious and infuriating—is both believable in the context of this story and also symbolic of the sexism in our society as a whole: It is systemic in scope; takes myriad forms; is too rarely acknowledged or challenged; has an impact that is achingly personal; those who fight back face repercussions; and every additional voice adds power to the call for change. Mathieu’s narrative is fierce and inspiring, while her nuanced characters and the complexity of their relationships ground the story and add to the satisfaction. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center