Monday, January 11, 2010

Predictions/PW's starred reviews

A few groups/individuals have posted their predictions for the ALA awards:

Fuse #8' Newbery & Caldecott 2010: Predict-o-rama: Newbery prediction: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead; Caldecott prediction: The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney.

Rockridge Branch of the Oakland Public Library: Newbery prediction: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Allen County Public Library: Newbery prediction: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Have you made your predictions yet? I'm still reading...

On to the new year...PW's starred reviews for 1/11/2010

Picture Books

All Things Bright and Beautiful by Ashley Bryan. S&S/Atheneum, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4169-8939-4
Five-time Coretta Scott King Award–winner Bryan (Let It Shine) interprets Cecil F. Alexander’s 19th-century hymn with cut-paper art defined by swirling geometrical shapes in neon hues, contributing to a pervasively jubilant atmosphere. Every spread is a riot of colors, movement, and natural splendors: a gray whale that recalls Haida artwork is the centerpiece of one of the “All creatures great and small,” scenes. In another, a rainbow presides over rushing waterfalls and rivers that flow from “purple-headed” mountains amid small villages. Bryan notes that he created the artwork using his late mother’s embroidery scissors, which are pictured on the endpapers, lending a personal dimension; a biographical sketch of Alexander and musical notation are also included. The hymn’s traditional roots are exquisitely juxtaposed against Bryan’s global and contemporary scope (skin tones that range from deep brown to taupe are all seen in the hands of a creator, which reach down from the heavens beneath the line, “All things wise and wonderful: The Lord God made them all”). Bryan taps into the hymn’s celebratory nature to produce a triumphal vision of creation. Ages 2–5. (Jan.)

Here Comes the Garbage Barge! by Jonah Winter, illus. by Red Nose Studio. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-85218-3

The message is the medium in this zany fictionalized version of the 1987 story of a garbage-laden barge that left Long Island for North Carolina after local landfills closed. To create the book’s innovative artwork, Red Nose Studio, aka artist Chris Sickels, photographed sets he fashioned from recycled materials, found objects, and garbage (the characters are made from acrylic clay). He chronicles this process on the inside of the jacket—a crafty double use of paper in keeping with the theme. Winter’s (Barack) bombastic narrative exposes the folly of the six-month journey, as the “Cap’m” of the tug pulling the stinky barge is turned away from port after port. Winter revels in dialogue throughout (“Dere’s dis guy down in Mexico—he owes me a favor,” the captain’s boss tells him), and the artwork is equally gleeful (in Florida, elderly residents floating in inner tubes angrily shake their fists, refusing to let the barge dock). Though kids aren’t likely to miss the message, a sign on a buoy shouts it out: “Moral: Don’t make so much garbage!!!” Funky in every sense of the word. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork. Scholastic/Levine, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-545-15133-7

Characters that are just as fully formed and memorable as in Stork’s Marcelo in the Real World embody this openhearted, sapient novel about finding authentic faith and choosing higher love. Seventeen-year-old Pancho Sanchez is sent to a Catholic orphanage after his father and sister die in the span of a few months. Though the cause of his sister’s death is technically “undetermined,” Pancho plans to kill the man he believes responsible (“How strange that a feeling once so foreign to him now gripped him with such persistence. He could not imagine living without avenging his sister’s death”). When D.Q., a fellow resident dying from brain cancer, asks Pancho to accompany him to Albuquerque for experimental treatments, Pancho agrees—he’ll get paid and it’s where his sister’s killer lives. D.Q. is deeply philosophical, composing a “Death Warrior” manifesto about living purposefully; through him, Pancho gradually opens to a world that he previously approached like a punching bag. Stork weaves racial and familial tension, tentative romances, and themes of responsibility and belief through the story, as the boys unite over the need to determine the course of their lives. Ages 14–up. (Mar.)

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta. Candlewick, $18.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4361-4

In her first fantasy work, Printz Award–winner Marchetta (Jellicoe Road) spins a sprawling yet intimate tale about a doomed kingdom and its struggle for reclamation. Years ago, Lumatere’s royal family was brutally murdered, an imposter king placed on the throne, and a curse levied on the land, forever locking it away from the rest of the land of Skuldenore, with many of its inhabitants cast out to the winds. Finnikin has spent the decade after Lumatere’s fall traveling, collecting stories of his scattered people and trying to ease their plight. Then he and his mentor are called to safeguard Evanjalin, an enigmatic young woman who claims to know the location of Lumatere’s long-missing heir, who can break the curse and bring the exiles home. As Finnikin and Evanjalin seek to reunite Lumatere’s far-flung people and restore their land, they face betrayals, horrors, and ethical crises. Magic, romance, intrigue, and adventure all play their parts as this dense, intricate epic unfolds, and flawed, memorable heroes fight for their kingdom’s redemption. Ages 14–up. (Feb.)

Congratulations to these authors!

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