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