Monday, December 24, 2018

Book of the Weeks (December 24 and December 31): Winter Is Here

by Kevin Henkes
Illustrated by Laura Dronzek 

Published by Greenwillow / HarperCollins, 2018
32 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-274718-1

Ages 3-6

Comforting illustrations with wintry hues—deep blues, bright blues, grays and whites—and cozy scenes featuring animals, brightly clad children, and snow and wind and ice, grace the pages of this picture book in which the lush acrylic artwork amplifies keen observations about the season expressed in the sparkling narrative. Winter is “falling …dripping … sticking ... reaching …crouching ….settling” in fresh, vivid descriptions. Winter sits softly (snow), but can also be hard (ice). It is inside and outside. Quiet and loud. “The wind howls in every language.” Winter is clothing: boots and vests and scarves and mittens and lots of zippers. And winter stays…and stays, until it “shrinks away bit by bit … peeking back then moving on.” To spring, of course. An artful picture book offering delight in the language, the images, and the harmony of their pairing. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, December 17, 2018

Book of the Week: Drum Roll, Please

by Lisa Jenn Bigelow

Published by HarperCollins, 2018
320 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-279114-6

Ages 10-13

Melly feels her world rocked in more ways than one in this novel steeped in authentic middle-school turmoil. Immediately before leaving for Camp Rockaway with her best friend Olivia, Melly’s parents announce their impending divorce. Still trying to absorb this news, Melly is plunged into the camp routine. A drummer, she is assigned to a band with three other young musicians, one of who is Adeline. In need of a friend and listening ear, Melly confides in Adeline about her parents’ divorce and is surprised to realize that she’s developing a crush on her new friend. (Olivia, meanwhile, has been neglecting Melly in favor of spending time with a cute boy in her own band.) With Adeline’s help, Melly learns to communicate her feelings about the divorce through a song for her band’s final performance. With a romance perfectly suited to preteen readers, the narrative deftly touches on issues of consent and leaves Melly excited about future self-discovery. The well-drawn music camp setting provides a unique backdrop for this touching portrayal of one girl’s growth over two momentous weeks. (MCT) ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, December 10, 2018

Book of the Week: The Night Diary

by Veera Hiranandani

Dial, 2018

272 pages

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2851-1


Ages 10-13

When Nisha and her twin brother Amil turn twelve, Nisha receives a notebook from her family’s beloved cook, Kazi.  She uses it as a diary, writing entries in the form of letters to her mother, who died when the twins were infants. Observant, sensitive Nisha is an excellent writer, but anxiety makes it difficult for her to speak. India has recently been freed from British rule, and when tensions among Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs erupt in her hometown of Mirpur Khas, Nisha fears for her family’s safety. Nisha and Amil’s mother was Muslim, but their father and grandmother are Hindu, putting them at great risk when their part of India becomes Muslim Pakistan. Nisha observes that her “childhood would always have a line drawn through it, the before and the after.” Forced to leave their comfortable life—and Muslim Kazi—behind, the family flees on foot, setting off across the desert for the “new India” with only a few jugs of water in hand. They encounter many dangers on their harrowing journey, only to arrive at a place that is not home, and where they have nothing but one another. Nisha’s diary entries effectively communicate not only the profound pain of loss and separation faced by this family during a tumultuous period of Indian history, but also the comfort of learning how to express love and gratitude for one another. (MCT)  ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, December 3, 2018

Book of the Week: The Patchwork Bike

by Maxine Beneba Clarke
Illustrated by Van Thanh Rudd 

Published by U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2018
36 pages

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0031-7

Ages 5-8

A girl enthusiastically describes her antics with her brothers, with riding the bike they built themselves her favorite of all they do. The bike is comprised of found objects: “handlebar branches that shicketty shake … tin can handles and wood-cut wheels…and a bell that used to be Mum’s milk pot.” That it is handmade out of economic necessity, sometimes requiring repairs relying on more ingenuity, is something that readers and listeners can infer, but it has no relation to the siblings’ pleasure and delight, which is absolute. Set in a village on the African continent, “at the edge of the no-go desert,” under the “stretching-out sky,” the story featuring a Muslim family celebrates creativity, imagination, and universal joy in play. The fresh, playful use of language is perfectly suited to its theme. The same is true of the acrylic-on-recycled cardboard art, in which the use of shadow and light suggests the hot sun on every page. Informative notes from both author and illustrator speak more to the story’s themes, and intentional connections the artist made between the African setting and characters and African Americans in the United States, including a “BLM” license plate. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center