Monday, April 19, 2010

PW's Starred Reviews

-- Publishers Weekly, 4/19/2010

Picture Books

Lyle Walks the Dogs: A Counting Book by Bernard Waber, illus. by Paulis Waber. Houghton Mifflin, $12.99 (24p) ISBN 978-0-547-22323-0

Bernard Waber's beloved crocodile lands a dog-walking job in this peppy story—more than just a counting book—aimed at a younger audience than its predecessors. Debut illustrator Paulis Waber's watercolor, ink, and pencil drawings flawlessly replicate the airiness and humor of her father's iconic art. Every day, Lyle adds another pooch to his responsibilities, each with a distinct personality. Paulis Waber conveys the canines' boundless energy and Lyle's patience and good humor, while the chatty text reaches out to the croc (“Hang on to Frisky, Lyle!”), the dogs (“Come along, Pokey!”), and readers (“Lyle walks 4 dogs. Count them—1-2-3-4”). Sniffy, the 10th and last canine to join the entourage, picks up the scent of a squirrel and gives chase, dragging Lyle and the others with him. But this, like the other mishaps that take place, is resolved in short order. After the mayhem subsides, kids will eagerly chime in as a final head count confirms that all of Lyle's charges are accounted for. The tale concludes with kudos to the protagonist (“Good job, Lyle!”), praise that should extend to the collaborators as well. Ages 3–5. (May)

The Chicken Thief by Béatrice Rodriguez. Enchanted Lion (Consortium, dist.), $14.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59270-092-9

In Rodriguez's wordless debut, a bear and rabbit are enjoying a peaceful lunch in the garden outside their cottage when a fox makes off with one of their hens. Their rooster wrings his wings melodramatically, and all three give chase. The book's squat format and panoramic spreads help build the tension—and comedy—in the scenes that follow: the fox, on the right, is always a step ahead, while the bear, the rabbit, and the rooster trail behind, beating through forests or crossing a stormy ocean on the bear's belly. Rodriguez succeeds in creating a distinctive personality for each of the characters, and her ability to capture the players' emotions via body language is masterful. The tenderness with which the fox carries the white hen makes it clear early on that his intentions are not malicious, and the mood changes to one of romantic intrigue. Readers will find themselves simultaneously cheering for the happy couple and sympathizing with the rooster, who's crushed. For readers who love a good chase—and who doesn't?—this one is a delight from beginning to end. Ages 4–7. (May)
How to Clean Your Room in 10 Easy Steps by Jennifer LaRue Huget, illus. by Edward Koren. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-84410-2

“Pull everything out of your drawers and closet and shelves. Every Single Thing,” instructs the young narrator in Huget's (Thanks a LOT, Emily Post!) goofily earnest how-not-to manual, which is all but guaranteed to induce laughter. “Divide your big pile into three different piles. One pile of stuff that's broken. One pile of stuff you're too grown-up to play with anymore. And one pile of things that you love more than anything else in the world and want to keep forever and ever.” Guess which pile is the biggest. With marching orders like that—and tips like “Pizza crusts may be munched on if they're less than a month old”—kids may find themselves asking their parents if it's time for housekeeping. Pairing Huget's cracked domestic advice with Koren (Thelonius Monster's Sky-High Fly Pie) is truly inspired. The New Yorker cartoonist's lavishly squiggly, scratchy ink line and endearingly discombobulated characters (which include not only the narrator but a scruffy retinue of real and stuffed animals) seem as natural a fit for this subject as dust bunnies under a bed. Bless this mess! Ages 4–8. (May)


Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi. Little, Brown, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-316-05621-2

SF novelist Bacigalupi (The Windup Girl) makes a stellar YA debut with this futuristic tale of class imbalance on the Gulf Coast. Teenage Nailer scavenges ships with his crewmates, eking out a poverty-filled existence while avoiding dangers that range from giant “city killer” hurricanes to his vicious, drug-addicted father. When a storm strands a beautiful shipping heiress on the beach (earning her the nickname “Lucky Girl”), Nailer manages both to infuriate members of his camp (including his father) and to become embroiled in upper-class trade disputes that he barely comprehends. As Nailer and Lucky Girl escape toward the drowned ruins of New Orleans, they witness rampant class disparity on individual and international levels (tribes whose lands were flooded have taken to the seas as pirates, attacking multinational shipping firms). Bacigalupi's cast is ethnically and morally diverse, and the book's message never overshadows the storytelling, action-packed pacing, or intricate world-building. At its core, the novel is an exploration of Nailer's discovery of the nature of the world around him and his ability to transcend that world's expectations. Ages 12–up. (May)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Top 100 Children's Fictional Chapter Books!

I love a good list, and Fuse #8 (Elizabeth Bird), a children's librarian at New York Public Library, has compiled a good one--the Top 100 Children's Fictional Chapter Books!

Here's how she compiled the list: Fuse asked the readers of her blog (Fuse #8 Production/School Library Journal) to vote for their top ten middle grade books of all time (not just this year or last year) by January 31, 2010. The voting did not include young adult books (for kids 13 and up) or early readers (like Mr. Putter and Tabby or Frog and Toad Are Friends).

You ca also hear her talk about it on this video published by Scholastic.

According to Fuse, she received 318 emails containing Top 10 lists. Of these emails, about six were from teachers and their students, Those emails averaged out to about 8 lists per email. So a rough estimate of votes received would look something like 366 lists. Below is the list of winners.

#1 Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
#2 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
#3 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
#4 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
#5 From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
#6 Holes by Louis Sachar
#7 The Giver by Lois Lowry
#8 The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
#9 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
#10 The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
#11 The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
#12 The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
#13 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
#14 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
#15 Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
#16 Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
#17 Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
#18 Matilda by Roald Dahl
#19 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
#20 Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
#21 Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riodan
#22 The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo
#23 Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#24 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
#25 Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
#26 Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
#27 A Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Burnett
#28 Winnie-the Pooh by A.A. Milne
#29 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland /Alice Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
#30 The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
#31 Half Magic by Edward Eager
#32 Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
#33 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
#34 Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
#35 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire JK Rowling
#36 Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
#37 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
#38 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
#39 When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
#40 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
#41 The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
#42 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#43 Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary
#44 Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
#45 The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
#46 Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
#47 Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
#48 The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall
#49 Frindle by Andrew Clements
#50 Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
#51 The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright
#52 The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
#53 Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
#54 The BFG by Roald Dahl
#55 The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
#56 Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
#57 Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
#58 The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
#59 Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
#60 The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
#61 Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
#62 The Secret of the Old Clock (The Nancy Drew mysteries) by Caroline Keene
#63 Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright
#64 A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck
#65 Ballet Shoes by Noah Streatfeild
#66 Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary
#67 Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville
#68 Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
#69 The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
#70 Betsy Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
#71 A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
#72 My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
#73 My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
#74 The Borrowers by Mary Norton
#75 Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
#76 Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
#77 City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
#78 Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
#79 All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
#80 The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
#81 Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
#82 The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
#83 The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
#84 Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
#85 On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#86 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
#87 The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg
#88 The High King by Lloyd Alexander
#89 Ramona and her Father by Beverly Cleary
#90 Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
#91 Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
#92 Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
#93 Caddie Woodlawn by C. R. Brink
#94 Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
#95 Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
#96 The Witches by Roald Dahl
#97: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
#98 Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston
#99 The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
#100 The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Interestingly, almost half of the books on the list are fantasy/science fiction, followed by realistic fiction and then historical fiction.

Is your top 10 on the list? If not, check out the books that didn't make the list here. There is also a meme going around in which people are indicating the titles they have read in bold. Me? I've read them all! How about you?

Monday, April 12, 2010

PW's Starred Reviews

-- Publishers Weekly, 4/12/2010

Picture Books

Bear in the Air by Susan Meyers, illus. by Amy Bates. Abrams, $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8109-8398-4

The stuffed animal carried away on a long, unexpected journey is a perennially popular theme; here, it’s illustrated with delightful attention to period detail by Bates (The Dog Who Belonged to No One). The baby who owns the unfortunate teddy bear is accompanied by a young mother in wellies, a polka-dot skirt, and a snug cloche hat for their boardwalk stroll at some pre-WWII seaside resort town. Bates works in roughly sketched pencil and soft, lustrously shaded watercolors, evoking a lost, gentler age. Meyers’s (Puppies! Puppies! Puppies!) verse is sturdy, obedient to its metric structure: “This is the dog that found the bear,/ Shook it and tossed it high in the air,/ Carried it down to the sandy shore,/ Trotted away with the ribbon it wore.” Bates honors each person, creature, or force of nature the bear encounters (from sailor to seal to sea breeze) in stately picture frames that appear at the start of each leg of the bear’s journey under the sea, up into the sky, and eventually—to readers’ relief—into a neighbor’s yard to be rescued by its owner. Ages 4–8. (May)

The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, trans. from the Spanish by Lucia Graves. Little, Brown, $17.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-316-04477-6

Originally published in 1993, Ruiz Zafón’s (The Shadow of the Wind) first novel, unavailable in English in the U.S. until now, is a melancholy horror tale that explores the implications parents’ choices can have for their children. During WWII, Max and Alicia Carver, 13 and 15, move with their family to a coastal Spanish village and meet an older local boy named Roland. As the three spend their time diving and exploring the town, they become aware that an unsettling force is lurking nearby. Visits to Roland’s adoptive grandfather fill in the story of the Prince of Mist, who has been bargaining for souls for decades. As the children learn more about the mysterious figure, they find themselves in greater danger. In gorgeously translated prose, Ruiz Zafón maintains a sweet, believable relationship among the characters when dealing with mundane concerns (a conflict over cleaning out a room full of spiders could be taken from any contemporary family film), but still conveys a sense of adventure and danger. The bittersweet ending suits the theme and setting, offering both hope and tragedy without any pretense of fairness. Ages 12–up. (May)

Stolen by Lucy Christopher Scholastic/Chicken House, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-545-17093-2

Christopher’s debut is an emotionally raw thriller that follows the abduction of 16-year-old Gemma by Ty, a gorgeous, 20-something Australian who is in love with her and hopes to win her love in return. The fast-paced novel is written in the past tense as a sort of diary from Gemma to Ty, suggesting that she has escaped, though this makes the story no less suspenseful. Ty drugs Gemma in a Bangkok airport and transports her to the home he has built in the isolated Australian outback, believing he’s rescuing her from shallow parents and a city life in London she never really fit into. Clever and determined, Gemma gathers her strength and plots numerous escapes to no avail. In the process, she encounters the wildness of her desert surroundings and carefully digs for Ty’s weaknesses, patching together his complex history, including the extent of his six-year obsession with her. Gemma’s fluctuating emotions are entirely believable—she’s repulsed by Ty, but can’t help recognizing the ways in which he’s opened her eyes. It’s a haunting account of captivity and the power of relationships. Ages 14–up. (May)

White Cat by Holly Black S&S/McElderry, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4169-6396-7

In this beautifully realized dark fantasy, which launches Black’s Curse Workers series, Cassel Sharpe is a talented con artist who works as a bookie at his snooty prep school. But skilled as Cassel is, it’s nothing compared to the rest of his family, who are curse workers, able to control people’s memories, luck, or emotions with the touch of a finger (curse work is illegal, and all citizens wear gloves to safeguard against being taken advantage of). Three years ago Cassel murdered a friend, the daughter of a crime lord, and now, not by coincidence, he’s having nightmares about a white cat (“It leaned over me, inhaling sharply, as if it was going to suck the breath from my lungs”) and sleepwalking on the roof of his dormitory. Complex plots unfold around Cassel, and he eventually realizes that he can’t even rely on his own memory. With prose that moves from stark simplicity to almost surreal intensity in a moment, Black (Ironside) has created a believable alternate America where mobsters are magicians and no one is entirely trustworthy. Ages 14–up. (May)

Friday, April 9, 2010

May/June Starred Reviews from Horn Book

The following books will receive starred reviews in the May/June issue of the Horn Book Magazine:

Farm (Orchard/Scholastic)
by Elisha Cooper

I Know Here (Groundwood)
by Laurel Croza; illus. by Matt James

What If? (Porter/Roaring Brook)
by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth (Greenwillow)
by Lynne Rae Perkins

Countdown (Scholastic)
by Deborah Wiles

Borroed Names: Poems about Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C. J. Walker, Marie Curie, and Their Daughters (Holt)
by Jeannine Atkins

Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors (Houghton)
by Joyce Sidman; illus. by Beckie Prange

Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty (Houghton)
by Linda Glaser; illus. by Claire A. Nivola

Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award

What Can You Do with a Paleta?, written by Carmen Tafolla and illustrated by Magaly Morales, has been named the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award winner for works published in 2008-2009. The award, established at Texas State University-San Marcos in 1995, is designed to encourage authors, illustrators, and publishers to produce books that authentically reflect the lives of Mexican American children and young adults in the United States.

What Can You Do with a Paleta? describes the many uses for a traditional Mexican popsicle treat on a hot summer day. The award will be presented this fall on the Texas State campus in cooperation with the Texas Book Festival. For further information, visit the Rivera Award website.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hope is the Thing with Feathers by Emily Dickinson

Easter is such a hopeful day for me, which immediately brings to mind one of my favorite poems by Emily Dickinson. Enjoy!

"Hope" is the thing with feathers --
That perches in the soul --
And sings the tune without the words --
And never stops -- at all --

And sweetest -- in the Gale -- is heard --
And sore must be the storm --
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm --

I've heard it in the chillest land --
And on the strangest Sea --
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb -- of Me.

From: Final Harvest: Emily Dickinson's Poems (Little Brown)

Friday, April 2, 2010

2010 Easter Egg Roll and J.K. Rowling!

Ready, Set, Go!

The President and First Lady have announced that this year’s White House Easter Egg Roll will be held on Monday, April 5, 2010 with the theme of “Ready, Set, Go!” promoting health and wellness. The event will feature live music, sports courts, cooking stations, storytelling and, of course, Easter egg rolling.

It has just been announced that J.K. Rowling will be reading at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on Monday, April 5...LIVE from Washington, D.C.!

Rowling will be reading from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at two separate times (1:30pm to 1:45pm ET and again at 2:00pm to 2:15pm ET) on Monday, and will be answering questions from kids. The whole event will be streaming live on
If you would like to recommend the passage from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone that you would like to see Rowling read, leave a message in the comments section of the Scholastic blog.