Monday, December 18, 2017

Book of the Week: Wolf in the Snow

Wolf in the Snow

by Matthew Cordell
Published by Feiwel and Friends, 2017
44 pages
ISBN: 978-1-250-07636-6
Ages 4-8


The snow is falling lightly as a red-hooded girl leaves her home and heads to school, walking across a winter-brown landscape. Elsewhere, there are wolves howling as the first flakes descend. When school lets out, the girl, in her pointy, slightly comical red parka, heads toward home in the thickening white, moving left to right across the landscape of the page. Elsewhere, the wolves are on the move, ominous and wild, moving right to left. But one small wolf pup falls behind. Girl (“huff huff”). Wolf pup (“whine whine.”). When the two meet, the girl picks up the small pup and bravely carries him toward the howling as the snow deepens. She comes face to face with a yellow-eyed adult wolf (!), reuniting the pup with its pack. The girl trudges on until she falls and can go no farther. Will she be eaten by those wild wolves heading back her way? The drama is genuine, and breathtaking, and unexpectedly moving in this magical story brilliantly told. Masterful pacing, a mix of expansive page spreads and spot images, and the blending of stylized (the girl in her triangular jacket) and realistic (those sinuous wolves) pen-and-ink and watercolor images make for an exceptional (almost) wordless picture book. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, December 11, 2017

Book of the Week: The Marrow Thieves



The Marrow Thieves

by Cherie Dimalene
Published by Dancing Cat Books (DCB)/Cormorant, 2017
234 pages
ISBN: 978-1-7086-486-3
Age 12 and older


“It began as a rumor, that they had found a way to siphon dreams right out of our bones.” In a not-too-distant future when environmental devastation has killed millions, many people no longer dream when they sleep. At the Canadian government’s new residential “schools,” the dreams of Indigenous people are distilled from their marrow for later use by the wealthy and privileged. Sixteen-year-old Frenchie escaped school Recruiters at 11 and has been with his found family ever since. One elder, one middle-aged adult, four teens, and four children from several Nations, they are constantly on the move evading Recruiters as new schools are built further and further north. Although skilled at survival, safety is an unknown destination, and when tragedy strikes at the heart of their group Frenchie decides it’s time to stop running and take a stand. This riveting work confronts the reality of genocide but never loses sight of hope. It’s the breath of those who survive.  It’s the love, the solidarity with others, cultural traditions, and the power of languages kept alive. M├ętis author Dimalene’s plot is fast-paced and unyielding while her finely drawn main characters, although marked by pain, are full of intelligence, compassion, and grace. Dimalene’s exquisite writing offers beautiful turns of phrase and lines that sting with their sharpness and honesty, while Frenchie’s teen voice and feelings, often surprisingly funny, are, like the story itself, at once of his time and our own. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, December 4, 2017

Book of the Week: A Different Pond



A Different Pond

by Bao Phi
Illustrated by Thi Bui
Published by Capstone, 2017
32 pages
ISBN: 978-1623708030
Ages 6-9


A Vietnamese American boy’s predawn fishing outing with his dad is the subject of a narrative shaped by an exquisite accounting of details. So much beyond the action is conveyed through beautifully weighted sentences (“I feel the bag of minnows move. They swim like silver arrows in my hand.”): The specific experience of this immigrant child (“A kid at my school says my dad’s English sounds like a thick, dirty river. But to me his English sounds like gentle rain.”); a hard-working family’s economic hardship (“‘If you got another job why do we still have to fish for food?’ I ask. ‘Everything in America costs a lot of money,’ he explains. I feel callouses on his hand when he squeezes mine.”); bittersweet memory as the boy’s dad recalls fishing at a similar pond as a child in Vietnam with his brother, who died during the war. And running through it all is the boy’s happiness in their time together, a pleasure that extends feelings about his entire family when they gather at day’s end. The evocative art masterfully and movingly conveys details of character, setting, and action while superbly reflecting the warmth and intimacy of the story. At volume’s end, both the author and illustrator share memories of growing up in Vietnamese families that came to the United States when they were children. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center