Monday, May 23, 2016

CCBC Book of the Week: Fabulous Frogs


Fabulous Frogs
by Martin Jenkins
Illustrated by Tim Hopgood

U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2016
28 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7636-8100-5
Ages 5-9

“This frog is huge (for a frog).” Indeed, the goliath frog found in western African that is pictured on the opening pages of this dynamic informational picture book barely fits on the two-page spread. A turn of the page reveals a scattering of diminutive, fingernail-sized frogs found in Papua, New Guinea. Author Martin Jenkins and Illustrator Tim Hopgood share their appreciation and enthusiasm for frogs of many types (and sizes and colors and other varied traits) in this gathering of fascinating frog facts. The clean, simple page design, conversational narrative and arresting mixed media illustrations work together to create an inviting book of information for younger children. The primary narrative is accompanied by additional facts in a smaller font on most pages, telling more about the specific creatures. An index and suggested web sites for more exploration are included.

Monday, May 16, 2016

CCBC Book of the Week: The Quickest Kid in Clarksville



The Quickest Kid in Clarksville

by Pat Zietlow Miller
Illustrated by Frank Morrison
Published by Chronicle, 2016
40 pages
ISBN: 9781452129365
Ages 5-8

Alta prides herself on being the fastest runner in Clarksville, Tennessee, hometown of Olympic star Wilma Rudolph. But Charmaine, of the new-shoes-just-like-Wilma’s, is fast, too. She may be even faster than Alta, although it’s hard to say: Alta is sure Charmaine tripped her when she won the race between them. Alta ended up with a hole in her sneaker. “Oh, baby girl,” says Mama. “Those shoes have to last.” On the day of a parade for Wilma Rudolph, Alta and her friends Dee-Dee and Little Mo make a huge banner, but getting the banner all the way to the parade isn’t easy, and time is running out. Then Charmaine shows up and suggests they take turns carrying it--a relay, just like Wilma ran for one of her medals. “Three people ran it with her, you know,” Charmaine says. “I hate to admit it, but she’s right.” A spirited story set in 1960 ends with an author’s note featuring a photograph of Wilma Rudolph at the real parade held in her honor in Clarksville. The energetic illustrations are full of movement and feeling. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, May 9, 2016

Book of the Week: My New Mom and Me



My New Mom & Me

by Renata Galindo
Published by Schwartz & Wade, 2016
32 pages
ISBN: 978-0-55352-134-4
Ages 3-8



“When I first came to live with my new mom, I was nervous.” The speaker in this picture book is a puppy, and the new mom a striped cat. Despite being animals, their strong feelings and realistic interactions are a spot-on portrayal of the emotional landscape of a young child entering a new family. The young narrator’s observations range from the novel (“I’d never had my own room before”), to the reassuring (“she takes care of me”), to the universal (“She does all the things that moms do--even the things that make me mad!”). When the puppy worries about looking different from the mom and paints on stripes to “fix it,” Mom gently washes them off and says she likes that the two of them are different. Acknowledging dark moments along with brighter times and recognizing that both child and parent are navigating new ground sets the stage for honest conversations in all kinds of families in this comforting, reassuring picture book. (MVL)  ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, May 2, 2016

Book of the Week: Unidentified Suburban Object



Unidentified Suburban Object

by Mike Jung
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic, 2016
272 pages
ISBN: 978-0-545-78226-5
Ages 9-13



Chloe Cho’s immigrant parents never talk about Korea so she’s explored her heritage on her own. A class assignment leads to crisis when her parents’ reticence makes it impossible for Chloe to share a family story as required. Finally, her parents reveal that they aren’t really Korean; they’re aliens from another planet. They intentionally chose an all-white U.S. town where its assumed they don’t know things because they are immigrants. In turn, the residents of the town are so ignorant about Koreans that no one has ever assumed Chloe’s parents are anything but what they claimed to be. Chloe’s best friend Shelley, who has learned about Korean culture with Chloe, is the only person who has always understood Chloe’s eye-rolling annoyance and occasional anger at the many uninformed things people say to her. Classmates assume, for example, that Chloe is obsessed with good grades and plays the violin because she is Asian, not because she is Chloe. Learning that she isn’t who, or even what, she always thought makes Chloe question everything, including Shelley’s interest in her culture, until she discovers both how little has changed and how much the things that matter—true friendship and family love—have remained steadfast. Mike Jung’s use of otherworldly “aliens” as a metaphor for how white people think about people of other races makes for a smart, funny, layered novel that is both blithe and deeply insightful. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, April 25, 2016

Book of the Week: Spot, the Cat



Spot, the Cat

by Henry Cole
Published by Little, Simon, 2016
32 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4814-4225-1
Ages 4-7



A cat entranced by a bird on the ledge outside its apartment slips through the open window, the departure unnoticed by the boy reading nearby. It’s the start of a city adventure for the intrepid feline, and an urgent quest for the boy once he discovers Spot (white cat with black spot) is missing. This intricate wordless story is rendered in detailed black pen-and-ink illustrations. Busy scenes of city life—buildings and bustling streets; an overhead view of kite flyers in a park; a parking lot farmer’s market; a cavernous, Grand Central-like station and more—not only offer the chance to spot the wandering cat on almost every page (there are red herrings too), but to notice other whimsical elements. The boy’s journey is one of increasing worry, but sharp readers will note some near misses when he and Spot are close to each other. (The two pages when the boy looks most hopeless are notably Spot-less). It turns out Spot is perfectly capable of finding home again, and the reunion is sweet and satisfying. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, April 18, 2016

Book of the Week: Booked

Booked
by Kwame Alexander

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016
314 pages
ISBN: 978-0-544-57098-6

Ages 9-13

Average person knows about twelve thousand words. / Average president knows twice that, he says, sounding like / Morgan Freeman.” Nick, 12, is an only child whose parents are on the brink of divorce. While his mother is in Kentucky training race horses Nick is home with his professor father, who is always badgering Nick to read the dictionary he wrote. Nick considers the dictionary, and by extension all reading, a chore. What Nick does like is soccer, his friend Coby, and April, a member of the school’s book club. It’s because of April, and Mr. Mac, the enthusiastic school librarian, that Nick starts reading. But it’s soccer that he lives for, and the upheaval in his life has made an upcoming, elite tournament in Dallas even more important to him. Then an injury makes it impossible for him to play. In a narrative in verse, Nick moves between first- and second-person (referring to himself as “you”) as he struggles with change, much of it unwanted, but some of it surprising for its unexpected goodness. The fast-paced plot is punctuated with soccer action, but the story plays even more with language than soccer balls, including some of the unusual words Nick has learned from his dad’s dictionary, which he defines in footnotes that are always illuminating and often amusing. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, April 11, 2016

Book of the Week: Happy Birthday, Alice Babette



Happy Birthday, Alice Babette

by Monica Kulling
Illustrated by Qin Leng
Published by Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press, 2016
32 pages
ISBN: 978-1-55498-820-4
Ages 4-8



“It will be a day filled with surprises,” Alice Babette thinks. “Alice’s first surprise was that there was NO surprise. Her friend Gertrude didn’t even say happy birthday.” Alice spends the day walking around Paris. She rides a merry-go-round in the park. She attends a puppet show. She even thwarts a robbery! Meanwhile, Gertrude is planning a special meal for Alice, even though she can’t cook. She shops for ingredients. A neighbor shows her how to light the stove. “On the stove, the pot lids tap-danced as the food cooked.” But she’s also writing Alice a poem, about a rose, and loses all track of time. An imagined story about Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein is full of whimsy--and smoke! Alice returns home to a mess. But when Gertrude later reads the poem, Alice loves it. The characters may be adults but everything in this story has child appeal, from the back-and-forth movement between Alice’s and Gertrude’s adventures to the spirited writing to the charm of their distinctive personalities and the obvious fondness between them. Blithe pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations are a perfect accompaniment. An author’s note does not explicitly state the two women were partners, instead noting that they “lived together for almost forty years.” ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center