Monday, March 30, 2009

PW's Starred Reviews

From Publishers Weekly, 3/30/2009

What Is This? by Antje Damm. Frances Lincoln (PGW, dist.), $15.95 (96p) ISBN 978-1-84507-899-7
Buttons become pig noses and a kitchen faucet turns into a swan under Damm's inventive hand. This appealing title, in line with Damm's Ask Me, invites readers to imagine what ordinary objects could become, given the addition of some paint, paper or clay. The titular question is cleverly scripted against monochromatic backgrounds in ways that relate to photographs of various items on the facing page (the words are written in flour opposite a slice of bread, and composed of pollen grains across from an orange daisy). The subsequent spreads reveal how Damm re-envisions each object: following a photo of a piece of Swiss cheese, a page flip reveals a cow created entirely from cheese, with the holes becoming spots. Three wooden spoons turn into a family of chickens with the digital addition of beaks, wattles and combs, and with a bit of clay, a seeded kaiser roll transforms into a turtle. This compact volume will easily prompt children to reconsider everyday objects—and maybe indulge in some arts and crafts. Ages 2–5. (Apr.)

Creepy Crawly Crime by Aaron Reynolds, illus. by Neil Numberman. Holt, $16.95 (96p) ISBN 978-0-8050-8242-5; paper $9.95 ISBN 978-0-8050-8786-4
In this first installment of the Joey Fly, Private Eye series, Reynolds (Buffalo Wings) and Numberman, who makes a wowser of a debut, marry the film noir spoof to the graphic novel, and the result has the sweet smell of success written all over it. The mystery takes readers to the big insect city, where most of the inhabitants are “normal everyday bugs just trying to put three feet in front of the others.” But there are always a few rotten arthropods in the barrel, and keeping them in line is Joey Fly, a detective with a fedora, a sense of justice masquerading as cynicism, a flair for similes and really, really big eyes. Joey, clearly an adult, is given a sidekick, an impetuous but eager scorpion named Sammy Stingtail. The crime does get solved—it involves a stolen diamond pencil box—but like the best noirs, the particulars take a backseat to the irresistible interplay of moody visuals (Numberman wryly replicates the chiaroscuro mis-en-scène of Depression-era cinema) and hard-boiled patois (“The facts were starting to line up like centipedes at a shoe sale”). Ages 8–up. (Apr.)

Congratulations to these authors!

Friday, March 27, 2009

In the SLJ news

Recent articles from School Library Journal that I thought were very interesting:

When danah boyd talks, people listen. The academic, blogger, and rock star of social networking research has just completed her PhD dissertation, “Taken Out of Context: American Teen Sociality in Networked Publics." SLJ caught up with her to talk about the way American teens socialize on sites like MySpace, Facebook, LiveJournal, Xanga, and YouTube. Read the article here.

Lookybook's virtual shelves are now bare. A favorite of librarians, parents, and elementary school teachers, Web site Lookybook closed on Friday, unable to keep pages turning because of the economy. Read the article here.

Neil Gaiman may have turned down his Hugo Award nomination for Anansi Boys (2005) in 2006, but he’s game this time with his recent recognition for The Graveyard Book (2008, both HarperCollins). Read the article here.

World Health Day is April 7th, and this super Web site will help kids ages 9–13 make healthy life choices. BAM! was created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read the article here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fun Facts about the CSK Book Awards


Lillie Patterson was the first author to receive the Coretta Scott King Book Award for “Martin Luther King, Jr.: Man of Peace.”

The author who has won the most Coretta Scott King Book Awards: Walter Dean Myers with five wins.

The illustrator who has won the most Coretta Scott King Book Awards: Jerry Pinkney with five wins.

Coretta Scott King received a special citation in 1984 for “The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Critically-acclaimed actor, Sidney Poitier, won the Coretta Scott King Book Award in 1981 for “This Life.”

Internationally renowned artist, Lev Mills, designed the Coretta Scott King Book Award seal in 1974.

The Coretta Scott King Book Award has honored 113 authors and illustrators over the past 40 years.

In 1995, Sharon Draper was the first author to win the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award (formerly known as the Genesis Award) for “Tears of a Tiger.” Three years later, she won her first Coretta Scott King Book Award for “Forged by Fire.”

After winning her first Coretta Scott King Book Author Award for “Toning the Sweep” in 1994, Angela Johnson went on to win the 2003 MacArthur “Genius” Award.

In 2000, Christopher Paul Curtis became the first author to win the Coretta Scott King Book Award and the Newbery Medal for the same book “Bud, Not Buddy.”

In 1972, several dozens of librarians gathered for the first Coretta Scott King Book Awards gala breakfast. This year, close to 1,000 are expected to celebrate in Chicago, IL.

The 2009 winners of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards are Kadir Nelson, author of “We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball,” and Floyd Cooper, illustrator of “The Blacker the Berry.”

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sensational Sequels

This year I am anxiously awaiting the sequels of several fantasy/science fiction novels and as luck would have it, Publisher's Weekly has interviews or information on three of them!

Melissa Marr became a bestselling author on her first try with Wicked Lovely (HarperTeen, 2007), a debut novel that intertwines the realm of Faerie with a contemporary, urban landscape. This spring sees the release of a sequel, Fragile Eternity, a story that begins where Ink Exchange—Marr’s second novel set in the same world—leaves off. Fans will be happy to know that Wicked Lovely is 100% free right now on HarperTeen’s Web site, and that a fourth book, Skin Starved, is on the way. Read the interview with Melissa Marr here!

One of the most heavily buzzed-about titles of 2008 was Suzanne Collins’s dystopian novel The Hunger Games, and there’s already plenty of anticipation—and news—ahead of the second book, Catching Fire, due this fall from Scholastic Press. Here’s a roundup of the latest, including an earlier release date for Catching Fire, as well as a new contest, which is being announced for the first time here in Children’s Bookshelf.

Cassandra Clare is the author of City of Bones, City of Ashes, and most recently, City of Glass (McElderry, March), the final installment in her Mortal Instruments trilogy. Clare spoke with Bookshelf about playing character favorites, making promises to fans, the ups and downs of saying goodbye to a big story, and working on a new series.

Monday, March 9, 2009

PW's Starred Reviews

-- Publishers Weekly, 3/9/2009

Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas. Viking, $15.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-670-06298-0
Chaltas's novel of poems marks an intensely powerful debut. Anke and her older siblings, Darren and Yaicha, may appear typical teenagers in public, but their home life is dominated by their father. Though he is verbally, physically and sexually abusive to her brother and sister, Anke seems beyond his notice (“with a sick/ acidic/ burbling/ bile/ i want what they have/ as horrible/ curdling/ vile/ as it is/ darren and yaicha/ get more/ than/ me”). The distance between the family members—separated by their silence—is palpable, as is Anke's growing sense of strength, partly due to her participation in volleyball at school (“My lungs are claiming expanding territory./ This is my voice./ This is MY BALL”). Though the pace is quick, tension builds slowly, almost agonizingly, as acts of abuse collect (a large bruise glimpsed on Darren's torso, muffled sounds from Yaicha's room that can't be tuned out). Readers will recognize the inevitability of an explosive confrontation, but the particulars will still shock. Incendiary, devastating, yet—in total—offering empowerment and hope, Chaltas's poems leave an indelible mark. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)

Redwoods by Jason Chin. Roaring Brook/Flash Point, $16.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-59643-430-1
Playing with the notion of just how immersive a book can be, illustrator Chin (The Day the World Exploded) makes his authorial debut with a clever exploration of coast redwoods. The framing story opens with a boy finding a copy of Red woods on a subway station bench (he's even on the cover). He delves in, and facts about the ancient trees spring to life around him: as he reads in a subway car that “there are trees alive today that first sprouted during the Roman Empire,” he is flanked by two figures from that era, driving home the point. Emerging from the station to find himself in the middle of a redwood forest, his adventures mirror what he's learning—standing in a redwood-made rain shower and glimpsing the Statue of Liberty in the midst of the forest (the tallest redwood is six stories taller). The straightforward narrative is given enormous energy by the inventive format and realistic watercolor illustrations—their soft edges and muted hues suit the mist-shrouded giants. Chin adeptly captures the singular and spectacular nature of redwoods in this smartly layered book. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)

Congratulations to these authors!

Share a Story-Shape a Future blog tour

A really wonderful thing is happening in the kidlitosphere...a blog tour about reading! See below for all the details!

Share a Story - Shape a Future

Within the kidlitosphere, the children's literature bloggers comprise and reach a very broad audience. One of the group's greatest assets is its collective, community-minded approach to sharing information and ideas. Through events like blog tours, authors and illustrators have had wonderful opportunities to share their story and their craft. Given the success of tours for "producers," what about an event for and by the people who create and engage their readers: teachers, librarians, parents, and people passionate about literacy?

Voila! Share a Story - Shape a Future is just that event. This is an ensemble effort not only to celebrate reading among those of us who already love books, but to encourage each other to reach beyond ourselves and do it in a way that we are neither judging nor instructing others. This is a venue for communicating practical, useable, everyday ideas.

The event begins March 9, 2009 and lasts one week. Each day we will have a group of bloggers sharing ideas around a specific theme. There are a number of book giveaways and free downloads that will be announced by the various hosts as we get closer to the kickoff. Here is the tour schedule.

Day 1: Raising Readers
hosted by Terry Doherty at Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, the Reading Tub blog

Click here for the schedule for the rest of the week.

Monday, March 2, 2009

PW's Starred Reviews

-- Publishers Weekly, 3/2/2009

If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Dutton, $16.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-525-42103-0
The last normal moment that Mia, a talented cellist, can remember is being in the car with her family. Then she is standing outside her body beside their mangled Buick and her parents’ corpses, watching herself and her little brother being tended by paramedics. As she ponders her state (“Am I dead? I actually have to ask myself this”), Mia is whisked away to a hospital, where, her body in a coma, she reflects on the past and tries to decide whether to fight to live. Via Mia’s thoughts and flashbacks, Forman (Sisters in Sanity) expertly explores the teenager’s life, her passion for classical music and her strong relationships with her family, friends and boyfriend, Adam. Mia’s singular perspective (which will recall Alice Sebold’s adult novel, The Lovely Bones) also allows for powerful portraits of her friends and family as they cope: “Please don’t die. If you die, there’s going to be one of those cheesy Princess Diana memorials at school,” prays Mia’s friend Kim. “I know you’d hate that kind of thing.” Intensely moving, the novel will force readers to take stock of their lives and the people and things that make them worth living. Ages 14–up. (Apr.)