Monday, December 5, 2016

Book of the Week: My Lady Jane


My Lady Jane

by Cynthia Hand and Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Published by HarperTeen, 2016
491 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-239174-2
Age 12 and older


Jane Gray’s short time as Queen of England (9 days in 1553) is reimagined as lighthearted blend of alternate history and fantasy. In 16th-century England, Edians, humans with the ability to transform into animals, are held in contempt by non-magical Verities, who want to purge England of magic. The resulting suspicion, animosity, and intrigue stands in for Protestant/Catholic religious hostilities of the time. Dying King Edward decrees that his beloved cousin, Jane, will become queen, arranging her marriage to secure the claim. It’s all to keep his Edian-hating step-sister Mary off the throne. Jane, who had no desire to marry, let alone a man with a reputation as a womanizer, learns on her wedding night that Gifford is a horse. That is, he becomes a horse from dusk to dawn, a well-kept secret (it’s not Gifford’s only one). Edward discovers his Edian abilities and secretly flees, escaping Mary’s attempt to poison him. On the run, he is helped by a capable thief named Gracie, and his sister Elizabeth. Jane ascends the throne and faces threats of her own, all while trying to make (horse)sense of her new husband. In the midst of it all comes a stunning self-discovery. There’s a little romance, a little magic, and a lot of humor, both slapstick and sarcastic. The omniscient narrative collective’s many droll asides are an abundant part of the fun. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, November 28, 2016

Book of the Week: First Snow


First Snow

by Bomi Park
U.S. edition: Chronicle Books, 2016
32 pages
ISBN:
978-1-4521-5472-5

Ages 2-6


A small girl wakes up in the night to the soft sound of falling snow. “Pit, pit pit against the window. Glistening, floating in the night.” She puts on warm clothes, walks outside, and begins rolling the snow into a ball. With her puppy following, she rolls the snowball out the yard, into the street, and through the darkened town. A speedy train passes as she goes “Fast Fast Fast.” Through a fallow field, through a friendly nighttime woods full of animals. Finally, she is moving “Slow Slow Slow” with her huge ball of snow, passing from the night into a bright, snow-white field full of children who are also rolling huge snowballs and making … snow figures! A magical, dreamlike story is told through a spare, lyrical text and stunning, textured, mostly black-and-white illustrations that are understated and exceptional. The art, which begins with nighttime black dominating has occasional, subtle accents of other colors, and whimsical punctuations of bright red for the scarves, hats and mittens on children and snow people. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, November 21, 2016

Book of the Week: Some Writer!


Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White

by Melissa Sweet
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016
161 pages
ISBN: 978-0-544-31959-2
Ages 8-13



Elwyn Brooks (E. B.) White, known to family and friends from early adulthood on as Andy, was shy and often anxious throughout his life. But with a pen in his hand, or a typewriter in front of him, he was entertaining and eloquent. Readers who know him as the author of Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, and The Trumpeter of the Swan will relish the stories here about those books, but they will also love discovering White the young adventurer, White the amateur naturalist and avid outdoorsperson, White the urbane journalist, White the opinionated commentator and essayist and defender of democracy, White the humorist, White the family man, White the farmer, White the literary stylist and master of clarity, and so much more. Author/illustrator Melissa Sweet brilliantly distills these complexities into an appealing, accessible portrait of White in a book that blends original watercolors, photographs, and collage with a clear (White would approve!) and engaging substantial narrative that integrates many quotes from White’s professional and personal writing. The gorgeous book design offers a sense of effortless interplay between the visual elements and text. A timeline, ample citations and source material, an author’s note and an afterword from writer Martha White about her grandfather and this book all add to a work that will bring delight to, and shows such respect for, young readers. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, November 14, 2016

Book of the Week: We Will Not Be Silent


We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler

by Russell Freedman
Clarion Books / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016
104 pages
ISBN: 978-0-544-22379-0
Age 12 and older


As young adults in Nazi Germany in the 1930s, Hans Scholl joined the Hitler Youth, his sister Sophie the League of German Girls. They quickly became disillusioned. The White Rose Movement grew out of gatherings of Hans and a few friends in Munich in the early 1940s. As soon as Sophie knew Hans was behind the first White Rose flyer in 1942, encouraging Germans to resist fascism “before it’s too late,” she demanded to be part of the work. The Movement’s weapons were words: flyers written and printed in secret, distributed with great planning and care. Their commitment was unwavering, right through their capture, interrogation and brief trial. “I would do it all over again,” 21-year-old Sophie told her Gestapo interrogator. “I’m not wrong … You have the wrong world view.” Along with a third White Rose member who’d been captured (they did not reveal the names of others) Hans, 24, and Sophie were executed by guillotine in early 1943. A detailed account full of intrigue and danger and heroism and heartbreak presents the Scholls’ courageous activism in the context of the terrible wrongs being committed by the Nazi regime, and the greater good that the White Rose Movement sought to inspire. Ample black-and-white photos, including candid snapshots of the Scholls, and other visual material are part of a work that ends with source notes and a bibliography.  © 2016 Cooperative Children's Book Center

Monday, November 7, 2016

Book of the Week:
The Cow Who Climbed a Tree


The Cow Who Climbed a Tree

by Gemma Merino
Published by U.S. edition: Albert Whitman, 2016
32 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8075-1298-2
Ages 4-7

“Tina was a very curious cow. She had a thirst for discovery.” But forging a nontraditional path has its naysayers. Tina’s three sisters meet her dreams with a constant refrain: “IMPOSSIBLE! RIDICULOUS! NONSENSE!” They say it when she imagines flying in a rocket ship, and they certainly say it when Tina tells her sisters about the friendly, flying dragon she’s met. Still, when Tina isn’t at breakfast the next morning they go in search of her, venturing beyond their farm for the first time. They can’t help but notice the scenery is beautiful. And what they go on to witness is impossible, ridiculous, nonsense! But it’s true: Tina is flying (well, parachuting; so are a pig and a penguin), her new dragon friend soaring nearby. This absurd and inspiring story is full of humor (e.g., Tina’s stickler-for-tradition sisters are cows living in a house, eating their grass at a well-set table) and set against singular illustrations that are distinctive and lovely, combining abstract washes of expressive color with quirky and charmingly detailed characters. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, October 31, 2016

Book of the Week: The Inquisitor's Tale


The Inquisitor’s Tale Or, Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog

by Adam Gidwitz
Illustrated by Hatem Aly
Published by Dutton, 2016
363 pages
ISBN: 978-0-525-42616-5
Ages 9-12


Three children on the run become determined to save Jewish texts from the flames of the Inquisition in this riveting, richly detailed story set in thirteenth-century France. Jeanne is a peasant who has visions and has fled her village pursued by Church representatives. William, son of a nobleman and a north African Muslim woman, is a monk in training. Extraordinarily strong, he’s been tasked with carrying a satchel of books to the monastery of St. Denis as punishment for disobedience. Jacob is Jewish and has unusual gifts as a healer, but he is helpless when Christian boys on a rampage burn his village. Their separate journeys converge at an Inn where the boys help Jeanne escape the men who captured her. The trio continues to Paris, where Jacob hopes to find his parents alive. Instead, they learn of King Louis’ plan to burn 20,000 Jewish texts. Realizing William was given the books he is carrying to save them from the flames, it becomes a race against Church and King to get them safely to St. Denis. Each guest at the Inn where the children first met tell pieces of this story, a la Canterbury Tales, while the novel’s mysterious narrator, one of the eager listeners, brings the breathless account to a close. At times sobering as it reveals anti-Semitism and oppression during the Inquisition, this is ultimately a story of light and faith and hope and miracles, and friendship holds them all. Black-and-white illuminations illustrate the trio’s adventures with wit and tenderness. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, October 24, 2016

Book of the Week: The Sound of Silence

The Sound of Silence

by Katrina Goldsaito
Illustrated by Julia Kuo
Published by Little, Brown, 2016
32 pages
ISBN: 978-0-316-20337-1
Ages 4-8



On the busy streets of Tokyo, Yoshio asks a koto player her favorite sound. She replies that the most beautiful sound to her is ma, the sound of silence. Yoshio tries to hear the sound of silence, but can’t find it. Noise seems to be everywhere: kids at school, traffic on the street, his family’s chopsticks and chewing during dinner. It’s not until Yoshi is engrossed in reading a book in an empty classroom that he realizes he’s hearing a moment of ma. “It had been there between the thumps of his boots when he ran; when the wind stopped for just a moment in the bamboo grove; at the end of his family’s meal, when everyone was happy and full; after the water finished draining from his bath; before the koto’s player music began—and hovering in the air, right after it ended. It was between and underneath every sound.” A picture book set in Tokyo is illustrated with detailed pen and digitally colored scenes that are both expansive and intimate, much like the story is full of both activity and quiet. An Afterword gives additional information about the Japanese concept of ma. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center