Posted in Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Planes brings readers a history of flight

Planes: From the Wright Brothers to the Supersonic Jet, by Jan Van Der Veken, (March 2021, Prestel), $19.95, ISBN: 9783791374413

Ages 8-12

Transportation readers are going to devour this comprehensive guide to planes. Originally published in Dutch in 2019, Planes: From the Wright Brothers to the Supersonic Jet is a detailed history, with illustrations and timelines, of planes from the Wright Brothers 1903 flyer to 2005’s Airbus A 380-800. Sections on design, atmosphere and weather, communication and navigation, and the future of flight make this much more than a book with pictures of planes; this is a detailed introduction to aerodynamics and the mechanics of airplane design. Profiles of notable planes in history include the Northrop-Grumman B-2, more commonly known as the “stealth bomber” and Lockheed’s P-38 Lightning, a popular World War II plane. Back matter includes sources. A solid desk reference for reports.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour: Agnes’s Place

Agnes’s Place, by Marit Larsen/Illustrated by Jenny Løvlie, Translated by Kari Dickson, (March 2021, Amazon Crossing Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542026758

Ages 4-7

Agnes wakes up every day in her familiar home, with her familiar life, but no one said it was always exciting. When you don’t have anyone to play with, and you’re the “only child in a place full of adults who never have time” it can be quite sad. So when a new little girl moves into the building, Agnes is thrilled and sends her a message – it’s really just a drawing of the swings at the park, and the word, “Here!”, but it should get the message across, right? After a few days of waiting, Agnes is disappointed and a little frustrated – not only did the little girl never respond, but now she’s taking over things that Agnes used to do, like play with Amadeus the cat, feed the birds, and fetch Emilia’s newspaper from the mailbox! Will Agnes and the little girl, named Anna, ever meet and get to play together?

Originally published in Norwegian (2019), Agnes’s Place is about so many childhood emotions: the feelings of being sad and ignored by the adults, the excitement and anticipation of making a new friend, and the frustration of feeling rebuffed. But it’s also about how one person can change someone’s life by just showing up: and that’s what Anna does for Agnes. Who knows if Anna understood Agnes’s message? She didn’t sign it or mention where she lived! But when the two finally meet in the building stairwell, all frustration and sadness go out the window, and all it takes is one outstretched hand to bring two children’s lives to a better place. Digital media illustrations are bright and cheerful, showing the two girls living their separate lives in a wash of color, until they meet and enter a fantastic, happy new world where they enter together. A lovely story about the magic of new friends.

A love letter to new friendships and apartment living.” –Kirkus Reviews

Marit Larsen is a Norwegian songwriter and musician. Agnes’s Place, her debut picture book, was first published in Norway and will also be published in Denmark and Italy. She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. Learn more about the author at www.maritlarsen.com.

On Instagram: larsenmarit

Jenny Løvlie is a Norwegian illustrator. Her previous picture book, The Girls, written by Lauren Ace, was the winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. She currently lives in Cardiff, Wales. Learn more about the illustrator at www.lovlieillustration.com.

On Instagram: lovlieillustration

Kari Dickson is a literary translator from Edinburgh, Scotland. In 2020 she won the Mildred L. Batchelder Award for best children’s translation for Brown, written by Håkon Øvreås and illustrated by Øyvind Torseter. She holds a BA in Scandinavian studies and an MA in translation.

Amazon Crossing Kids aims to increase the diversity of children’s books in translation and encourage young reading from a range of cultural perspectives.

*****************************************************************

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Folx and children of all ages, I present… The Greatest Show Penguin!

The Greatest Show Penguin, by Lucy Freegard, (Feb. 2021, Pavilion), $22.95, ISBN: 978-1-84365-483-4

Ages 3-7

Poppy is a show penguin descending from a long line of show penguins. She’s been in show business from early on, and the audience loved her, but she wasn’t enjoying herself. She didn’t like the crowds, bright lights, and noises, and, despite worrying about disappointing her family, stops performing, only to discover a talent for the backstage business of putting on a show! The Greatest Showpenguin is an engaging story about finding your talents and discovering your strengths. Poppy’s parents are supportive and encourage her to pursue what makes her happy; Poppy is happy when she feels in control of her life and her environment, which will resonate with readers. The illustrations are cheery, colorful but not overwhelming. Endpapers feature Poppy, rolling in a hoop, across the spreads. A fun storytime that would pair nicely with Hannah E. Harrison’s Extraordinary Jane (2014).

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

My Red Hat connects generations

My Red Hat, by Rachel Stubbs, (Feb. 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536212716

Ages 3-7

A grandparent passes on their red hat to their grandchild. More than a hat, it’s a connection between the two: a hat to keep the child warm or cool, to let them stand out… or not, to capture dreams and hide from fears. The two imagine all the places the hat will take them together, creating an enduring bond between them. This child will have a keepsake from their grandparent forever; the grandparent has given a piece of themselves. This story of love, memory, and generations is Rachel Stubbs’ debut, and it’s a quiet, lovely meditation. Spare text amid the blue and red-colored ink and graphite artwork gives depth and poetry to the story, and the artwork is dreamlike, evoking memory. A beautiful story.

My Red Hat has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Magic happens at The Midnight Fair

The Midnight Fair, by Gideon Sterer/Illustrated by Mariachiara DiGiorgio, (Feb. 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536211153

Ages 3-7

A fairground closes down for the night… at least, for some. When all the people leave, glowing eyes gather… and the neighboring animals show up to enjoy their time at the fair. Some staff the booths while others wander, boarding rides and playing games. A fox wins a goldfish, a bear pays for a treat with a handful of acorns, a group of forest dwellers hang on tight as the Buccaneer ride rocks them back and forth. This wordless story is breathtaking, with watercolor, gouache, and colored pencil spreads that pulsate with vibrancy and activity. Endpapers show a family of bears and their neighbors watch the fair trucks arrive and depart. Spreads alternate with panels to illustrate different moments from the evening. You’ll smell the popcorn butter and feel the electricity in the air. Watch this one for Caldecott season.

The Midnight Fair has starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, The Horn Book, Shelf Awareness, and Book Page.

Posted in picture books

The Last Tree offers much more than shade

The Last Tree, by Emily Haworth-Booth, (March 2021, Pavilion Children’s) $16.95, ISBN: 9781843654841

Ages 4-8

Once, a group of friends looked for a place to live and decided to settle in a forest. They built shelters, which became houses, which turned into a village. With less and less trees to protect them, the winds threatened their work and homes, so they cut down all but one tree to build a wall that would protect them – but something changed when they did that. They became less friendly and free, more guarded. They wanted more wood to fence themselves in, and sent their children to cut down the last tree, but the children refused. Waterstones Children’s Book Prize nominee Emily Haworth Booth creates an environmentally conscious story with a respect and love for open, green space at its heart. Combining spreads with comic book-like panels, the story, rendered largely in shades of green and gray, is a moving look at how green spaces bring with it a freedom we cannot afford to push away.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

I Am a Bird introduces kindred spirits

I Am a Bird, by Hope Lim/Illustrated by Hyewon Yum, (Feb. 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536208917

Ages 3-7

Every day, a little girl rides to school on the back of her father’s bike, pretending she is a bird. Arms outstretched, she “caws” to the birds, who sing back to her as people wave. But one woman in a blue coat does not wave or smile, and the girl wonders why; one day, she and her father discover where this mysterious woman, with her mysterious bag, heads off to every day, and she is delighted! I Am a Bird is a gentle story with a sense of freedom and abandon. Spare text allows the pencil and gouache illustrations to breathe and wander; the little girl rides securely at her father’s back, arms thrown out wide and head thrown wide as she greets the day with joy. Endpapers are blue and white, with flocks of birds flying across the spreads. A lovely story for storytimes.

I Am a Bird has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction

A touching tribute to the fallen and those who stand guard: Twenty-One Steps

Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, by Jeff Gottesfeld/Illustrated by Matt Tavares, (March 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536201482

Ages 7-10

Told in the quiet, poetic voice of the Unknown Soldier, Twenty-One Steps is the story of the Unknown Soldier and of the soldiers who guard the Tomb through sun and rain. It is the most difficult post to earn, and the highest privilege for those who do. Every bit of each soldier’s appearance, every step they take, is in service to the Unknown Soldier. Jeff Gottesfeld and Matt Tavares create a moving tribute to the soldiers who have paid the ultimate price, and those who guard them in this flawless work. An afterword about Arlington National Cemetery concludes the book. The first soldier, a World War I veteran, was interred in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier 100 years ago this coming November; make sure to have this in your collections.

Twenty-One Steps has starred reviews from The Horn Book and Kirkus.

Posted in Non-Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Authors explore an explosive year in 1789

1789: Twelve Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution, and Change, edited by Marc Aronson & Susan Campbell Bartoletti, (Sept. 2020, Candlewick Press), $22.99, ISBN: 9781536208733

Ages 12+

America wasn’t the only one feeling growing pains in 1789. Marc Aronson and Susan Campbell Bartoletti, who edited and contributed to 2018’s 1968: Today’s Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution, and Change, have put together another stellar examination of a contentious year in global history with 1789: Twelve Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution, and Change. All-star authors, including Aronson and Bartoletti, Tanya Lee Stone, Steve Sheinkin, Joyce Hansen, and Cynthia Levinson and Sanford Levinson, take on the big events and questions that rocked the world that year: what does “The Rights of Man” mean? White men? Nobles and kings? What about enslaved people and indigenous people? The Bill of Rights was ratified in the United States while France burned toward revolution; fishwives took to the streets and Marie Antoinette’s portrait artist captured the human side of an untouchable royal. Sailors mutinied, slaves told their stories, and mathematicians calculated the digits of pi. Organized into sections entitled “Exhilaration”, “Abomination”, “Inspiration”, and “Conclusions”, essays cover the excitement of change and discovery, the horror of enslavement, and the journey toward progress. It’s a truly holistic view of a pivotal year in history, and each essay broadens the reader’s world as they connect the dots to come away with a full picture of how one event can, like a snowball rolling downhill, engulf all in its path.

Publisher Candlewick offers a sample chapter on their website as well as an educator’s guide. Back matter includes comprehensive author notes, source notes, and a bibliography. 1789 has starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Tween Reads

Houdini and Me – he’s back for one last trick!

Houdini and Me, by Dan Gutman, (March 2021, Holiday House), $16.99, ISBN: 9780823445158

Ages 8-12

Eleven-year-old Harry Mancini lives at Harry Houdini’s old address, so he’s learned quite a bit about the magician. But when someone leaves him a mysterious old flip phone, and someone calling himself Houdini starts texting himself on it, Harry thinks someone has to be playing a prank on him, but the texter knows way too much about Houdini, and Harry’s current apartment… is he really Houdini, and how did he find a way to text from beyond the grave? As the two exchange text conversations, Houdini lays out his plan: he wants to come back and experience life again, and in return, he’ll make Harry famous. But there are always strings attached, aren’t there?

Dan Gutman is already a celebrity in my home and my library for books like his My Weird School and The Genius Files series, and Homework Machine. He has a way of writing that kids relate to so well; it’s like having another kid level with them, and they love it. Houdini and Me has that same first-person narration and conversational voice that kids love, rapid-fire dialogue between characters, and a solid history lesson Harry Houdini, magic, and the early 20th century, that kids will enjoy, too. It’s an interesting take on Harry Houdini – this would make a good reading group book.

Check out Dan Gutman’s author website, loaded with resources, including his My Weird Read-Aloud, excerpts, and information about virtual school visits. Houdini and Me is on the Indie Next List.