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.

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Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Do you know a Grumbletroll?

The Grumbletroll, by aprilkind & Barbara van den Speulhof/Illustrated by Stephan Pricken, (Apr. 2021, Schiffer Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764361173

Ages 3-6

A cute little troll sets out to build himself a little cottage, but things don’t go the way he wants them to and gets very cranky. There’s a rumbling in his tummy that grows and grows as the angry feelings grow inside of him until they finally pour out: he’s a grumbletroll! His friends are tired of his tantrum, so they head off to play without him while he carries on. When the tantrum subsides, the troll apologizes to his friends: there are no grudges here! A story that captures the mood swings and frustrations of being a toddler and a preschooler The Grumbletroll speaks to kids respectfully about understanding big feelings and how they can take over, and how they can make people around them want to stay away. But the story also acknowledges that friends forgive and forget, and can pick up where they left off. Originally published in German in 2018, The Grumbletroll understands that childhood, and great big emotions, are universal. Colorful artwork and expressive faces and body language let kids communicate what the troll and his friends all feel. This fits in nicely with a feelings and emotions storytime: add Mo Willems’s famous Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Bob Raczka’s Niko Draws a Feeling, Laura Dockrill’s Angry Cookie, and M.H. Clark’s Tiger Days. This would be a good opportunity to use the Little Box of Emotions, if you have them, and let Kiddos identify and describe different feelings. If Grumbletroll feels like a storm when he’s angry, what do you feel like when you feel happy? Excited? Nervous? Adorable fun for a Pre-k storytime.

Educrafters on Teachers Pay Teachers has a cute Feelings Faces Craft that’s a free download, and you can have a ball with emoji crafts! Elizabeth Low on Teachers Pay Teachers has a downloadable emoji feelings charts, and Lisa Markle Sparkles, also on Teachers Pay Teachers, has emoji clipart.

Posted in Graphic Novels, Middle School, Teen, Tween Reads

Tales from the Backlist: Graphic novels you may have missed

You know that TBR that just keeps growing? Well, I’ve got one of those on my computers, too: yes, plural. My work PC, my laptop, my backup laptop… I see exciting looking graphic novels, I download them, and they join the TBR club. When I get a chance to read them, I want to talk about them, because they’re seriously good books, and we all know, it doesn’t matter when the book is published, right? So here, I present some graphic novels you may have missed the first time around: add these to your own TBR.

 

Sarah’s Dream (The Grémillet Sisters, #1), by Giovanni Di Gregorio/Illustrated by Alessandro Barbucci, Translated by L. Benson, Edited by Lisa Morris, (July 2020, Europe Comics), $5.99, ASIN: B08CHH5L3F

Ages 10-14

Three quirky sisters, one big secret: the first volume in The Grémillet Sisters series introduces readers to Sarah, Cassiopeia, and Lucille, three sisters with very different personalities. Lucille, the youngest, is an animal lover who spends most of her with the family cat or caring for strays; Cassiopeia lives with her head in the clouds, with princes and castles, and Sarah, the eldest, has strange dreams of trees and jellyfish. When she asks their mother about her past – a past the girls know almost nothing about – their mother becomes snappish and preoccupied, leading the girls to investigate, and discover a mysterious photo where their mother appears pregnant. But which sister is she pregnant with, and why was the photo hidden away? Originally published in French in 2020, Sarah’s Dream is lushly illustrated, with deep colors and gorgeous lighting throughout. The sisters have defined personalities have a realistic relationship with relatable ups and downs: Sarah, as the eldest, bosses the other two around; they go from being a cohesive “Three Sisters Club” one minute to never wanting to speak to each other again, the next. A good supplemental choice for middle school graphic novel collections. Content warning for pregnancy loss. Currently available as an ebook, it’s a purchase to consider if you have strong electronical graphic novel collections.

 

Jane, by Aline Brosh McKenna/Illustrated by Ramón K. Perez, (Sept. 2017, Archaia), $24.99, ISBN: 9781608869817

Ages 12+

This modern-day update of Charlotte Brontë’s classic Jane Eyre, spins the story into a thriller about a nanny, her young charge, and the mysterious businessman, Rochester. Jane is an orphaned girl when she ends up on her aunt and uncle’s door; she scrimps and saves until she has enough money to leave the home that never had room her  in Massachusetts and heads to New York City, where she has secured a scholarship at an arts school. To earn some cash and keep the scholarship, she takes a job as a nanny to a young girl named Adele. Adele’s father, Rochester, is a seemingly unapproachable, uninterested father until Jane confronts him about Adele’s withdrawn behavior in school. As Rochester begins coming down from his ivory tower and taking on a more active role as Adele’s father, Jane also sees that he’s a man with secrets – secrets he’s not willing to bend on. But the two fall for one another, and Jane worries that Adele’s life – and Jane’s own life – may be on the line. Part thriller, part romance, award-winning screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna’s take on Jane Eyre uses the source material as a jumping-off point for a new reimagining, with great success. You’ll notice bits of the original Jane Eyre peeking out in the earlier part of the story, along with some moments that will make readers familiar with one of McKenna’s movies, The Devil Wears Prada, smile with recognition. The artwork is moody, enhancing the overall atmosphere of the story and never quite letting the reader – or Jane – relax; it moves from murky, as Jane recalls her childhood memories, to stark and shadowy, as the story moves into a modern noir. I’m really happy about this new take on a classic favorite; into my library shopping cart it goes.

Aline Brosh McKenna is the award-winning screenwriter of The Devil Wears Prada, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. This is her graphic novel debut. Illustrator Ramón K. Pérez is the with Eisner Award-winning illustrator of Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand. The book received the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards Nominee for Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17) & Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team (for Ramón K. Perez) (2018).

The Not-So Secret Society: Tale of the Gummy, by Matthew Daley & Arlene Yiadom-Daley/Illustrated by Wook Jin Clark, (Aug. 2017, KaBoom!), $9.99, ISBN: 9781608869978

Ages 8-12

Take five science and candy-loving friends, a dose of STEM/STEAM, and a group of uber-over-achievers to go up against for the all-city science fair, and you’ve got the NS3: the Not-So Secret Society. This group of middle schoolers needs a project that will wow the judges at the science fair, and they come up with one when they create a machine that can bring candy to life! Their test run brings an adorable gummy bear to life, but Gummy has a sweet tooth that won’t quit – and neither will the growth spurts that follow! The NS3 has to track down Gummy, who goes on a sugar-eating rampage, before it’s too late, and they still have to make it to the science fair on time! This is an hilarious story of friendship, science, and candy, starring a group of middle schoolers that readers will love: Madison, the bookish one; Aidan, the inventor; Emma, the licorice-obsessed artist; Dylan, the comedian, and Ava, the tiny wrestling fan with a big temper. Readers who loved Eleanor Davis’s Secret Science Alliance will enjoy this comic. I just want to know why three years have passed without a new adventure! Back matter includes a parent reading guide and learning activities, along with Common Core standards info. Unfortunately, the website for the NS3 doesn’t seem to be up at the moment, but in the meantime, try some safer candy experiments in the spirit of the NS3, with no risk of giant gummy bear attacks. This Pinterest board never disappoints – I’ve made the candy slime with my library kids, and I’ve made the Ziploc bag ice cream with my own kiddo. If you want to go old school, show them a few episodes of the early 2000s cartoon, Codename: Kids Next Door.

 

 

Mouse Guard Alphabet Book, by David Peterson & Serena Malyon, (Sept. 2017, Archaia), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1684150106

Ages 3-6

I can’t believe I’ve never written about Mouse Guard. One of the first graphic novels my now 21-year old son enjoyed, Mouse Guard is the award-winning, fantastic tale of a group of mice and the predators they must always be on guard against. It’s Dungeons & Dragons, Tolkien-esque fantasy for children and a perfect stepping stone to the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. Breathtaking high-fantasy, medieval artwork is the hallmark of the series, and this abcedary showcases beautiful illuminated manuscript artwork for each letter of the alphabet, incorporating elements from the Mouse Guard series, and rhyme in pentameter. If you’re like me and want to introduce your Kiddos to fantasy at an early age, concept books like this are gold. Psst.. there’s a coloring book and a roleplaying game available, too.

The Mouse Guard website also has free, downloadable craft ideas and MP3s of songs featured in the Mouse Guard books.

 

Posted in Early Reader, Non-Fiction, Preschool Reads

Two nonfiction titles get updates ¡en español!

Peachtree Publishing has been rolling out more Spanish-language and bilingual children’s titles. They’ve started translating their Stanley the Hamster series into Spanish this year, and I just received early copies of two of their nonfiction titles, coming in 2021. I’m so excited to talk them up!

Sobre los anfibios: Una guía para niños, by Cathryn Sill/Ilustraciones de John Sill, (Feb. 2021, Peachtree Publishing), $8.99, ISBN: 9781682632307

Ages 4-6

The first up is About Reptiles: A Guide for Children, a 2016 titles by Cathryn Sill and John Sill. Great reading, perfect for pre-k and emerging Kindergarten readers, this book is illustrated in full color, with incredibly detailed pictures of salamanders, frogs, and toads. Each page has a brief sentence in Spanish that introduces readers to different aspects of amphibians: “Los anfibios tienen la piel suave y húmeda” (“Amphibians have smooth, moist skin”); “La mayoría de los anfibios pasa parte de su vida en el agua y parte en la tierra” (“Most amphibians spend part of their lives in water and part on land”). The text goes on to describe how they are born; life cycles; appearance; predators and defense mechanisms; habitat, and eating habits. A word about protecting their habitats is a nice opportunity to talk about the environment and habitat protection. Each page includes the name of a featured amphibian and maps to a numbered series of photos in the back matter, which provides more information for more confident readers, and parents/caregivers/educators who want to provide a deeper dive into a lesson. A glossary, web sources, and additional books provide a nice go-to for readers who want to learn more.

There is a teacher’s guide available via the publisher’s website; it’s currently in English, but I know they are developing materials in Spanish and will update as I learn more.

 

Sobre los reptiles: Una guía para niños, by Cathryn Sill/Ilustraciones de John Sill, (Feb. 2021, Peachtree Publishing), $8.99, ISBN: 9781682632314

Ages 4-6

About Reptiles: A Guide for Children, also by Cathryn Sill and John Sill, provides the same easy text and lifelike animal illustrations. The translation is flawless, and communicates the important, basic properties of reptiles for kids: “Algunos repitles están cubiertos de placas duras como huesos” (“Some reptiles are covered in hard plates like bones”); “Los reptiles tienen las patas cortas o simplemente no tienen patas” (“Reptiles have short legs or simply no legs”); “Se muevan reptando o nadando” (“They move by crawling or swimming”). There’s more to work with here; reptiles can include snakes, tortoises and turtles, lizards, and crocodiles, which can live on land, in water, or move between both. Great, fast facts, easy reading, and further information available makes this series a huge relief for my easy nonfiction collection.

There’s a real need for Spanish-language nonfiction in my library’s community, and these books fit the bill. I love having easy picture book nonfiction available that can be used in a Discovery/STEM club readaloud, a storytime (come on, you know you want to read this along with Jump Frog, Jump!), even using flannels to let readers discover the natural world. With an $8.99 price tag for these softcovers, this is an affordable way to add series nonfiction to my Spanish collection. I’m thrilled that Peachtree is working on expanding their Spanish language collection: there are other bilingual editions at the end of the books, letting readers know what other titles are coming.

Posted in picture books

Blog Tour: Some Days

Some Days, by Marís Wernicke, Translated by Lawrence Schimel, (Nov. 2020, Amazon Crossing Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-5420-2251-4

A moving meditation on loss and the need for a safe place, Some Days is a conversation between mother and child. The girl tells her mother about a place in their yard where it’s not cold, where nothing bad can ever happen. As she tells her mother about this place, she reminisces about a man, presumably her father; the two play together and he holds her on his shoulders. Her mother reassures her that the place is always there.
The acrylic illustrations are stunning here. Told in shades of gray, we feel the heaviness, the grief, the two share as they sit at the table. A scarlet sheet represents the daughter’s safe place; her mother’s dress and father’s coat are the same shade of scarlet, showing that they are her safe place. When her mother speaks of a safe place, her color is a murkier green and gold; an emerging grief. The quiet, spare text communicates a feeling of mourning and the promise of a way out, together.
Just a stunning meditation on loss; it doesn’t offer any answers, but understands. Some Days has a starred review from Kirkus.

María Wernicke is an award-winning Argentinian author and illustrator of children’s books. She is a 2020 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award nominee. Her illustrations have been part of multiple international exhibits, including at the Bratislava Biennial exhibition and the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, among others. Learn more about the author at www.maria wernicke.blogspot.com.

On Instagram: @wernicke_maria

Lawrence Schimel is a bilingual author and translator, with more than one hundred books to his credit. His children’s books have won a Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and have been selected for lists of outstanding titles by the International Board on Books for Young People. His translated books include Wanda Gàg’s Millions of Cats and George Takei’s graphic novel They Called Us Enemy, among many others. He lives in Madrid, Spain.

★“A gentle model for living while missing a loved one.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“This brief, wistful exchange between a mother and her child delivers its emotion between the lines, and Schimel’s translation handles the understatement deftly…Wernicke shows the two twirled up in another set of sheets, looking for the passageway together, in this portrait of a parent who hears and honors her child’s words.” —Publishers Weekly

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Some Days courtesy of Amazon Crossing Kids (U.S. and Canada addresses). Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Posted in Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Fantasy Graphic Novels for Teens

Ever After, by Olivia Vieweg, (Sept. 2020, Graphic Universe), $16.99, ISBN: 9781728412924

Ages 12+

Translated from the German 2012 graphic novel Endzeit, Ever After is an unsettling zombie apocalypse story. Two German cities – Weimar and Jena – are survivor outposts in the days after the zombie apocalypse. Two young women, Vivi and Eva, travel from the harsh conditions in Weimar to Jena, hoping for a better life, but both women have secrets. Vivi is tormented by visions of her younger sister, while Eva is in the middle of a transformation. The two form an unlikely friendship on the road, protecting one another from the living and the dead. The story is focused on the two women for the most part, making it an interesting character study in personality. The colorful manga-inspired artwork is a stark contrast to the bleak story, and there are some very graphic moments that may not appeal to some readers. The story drops readers into the beginning of the story with very little context, so it is a little fiddly at first, but I hit my stride pretty quickly. It’s an interesting new take on zombie stories; if you have readers who enjoy zombie horror, consider adding this to your shelves.

Endzeit was made into a movie in 2019.

 

Daughters of Ys, by M.T. Anderson/Illustrated by Jo Rioux, (Aug. 2020, :01First Second), $24.99, ISBN: 9781626728783

Ages 12+

Award-winning author M.T. Anderson and illustrator Jo Rioux create a feminist fantasy with a Celtic influence with Daughters of Ys. Ys, a seaside kingdom, is shaken when its Queen, Malgven, passes away. Her two daughters, Rozenn and Dahut, are horrified to discover their father in the arms of other women so soon after their mother’s passing, and grow apart. Rozenn, the heir to the throne, would rather be in the wild, surrounded by animals and nature; Dahut enjoys palace life and all the attention that comes with being the “beautiful daughter” – but she’s got a secret directly connected to the monsters that threaten the Kingdom of Ys: the monsters that Queen Malgven used to be able to keep away.

Based on a classic folktale, The Daughters of Ys has M.T. Anderson’s hallmark storytelling, with epic fantasy fleshed out with strong characters and complex relationships. Jo Rioux’s artwork beautifully creates a Celtic-inspired world, and her lush artwork gives the fluid feeling of the seaside kingdom surreal life. She uses shadows and moody coloring to wonderfully dramatic effect. Hand this to any of your fantasy readers, and for anyone interested in more reading about Ys, this Wikipedia page has some very good information and links.

MT Anderson has won multiple literary awards, including the 2006 National Young People’s Book Award for his book The Pox Party. His 2018 book with M.T. Anderson, The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge, was nominated for the National Young People’s Book Award.

The Daughters of Ys has a starred review from School Library Journal.

Teen Titans: Beast Boy, by Kami Garcia/Illustrated by Gabriel Picolo, (Sept. 2020, DC Comics), $16.99, ISBN: 9781401287191

Ages 10+

The creative powerhouse that brought us the Raven original graphic novel is back with Teen Titans’s Beast Boy! Garfield Logan is 17 years old, and he wants things to happen! Senior year is almost over, and he can’t figure out how to get in with the in crowd, instead of being the pizza-eating, video-game loving nerd that everyone overlooks. Tired of being short and scrawny, he stops taking the supplements his parents always give him, and things start happening. He grows six inches overnight. His voice gets deeper, and he’s strong. Like, STRONG. And fast. It’s almost like he can… channel different animals? He starts taking dares from the social crowd, and Gar sees his chance for social currency! But although a big dare pays off, it also kicks something into motion, and Gar decides he needs answers from his parents. They’ve been keeping things from him, and it’s time they ‘fessed up. But his parents, and his best friends, Stella and Tank, aren’t the only people with a vested interest in Gar. A guy named Slade Wilson is skulking around town (DC fans will know that when Deathstroke shows up, that’s never good news), claiming to have some of the answers Gar’s looking for, but Slade is playing a longer game, and someone higher up is very, VERY interested in Gar.

I loved this Beast Boy origin story! I will be honest, though – while it doesn’t end abruptly, it does end with a lot of questions unanswered, so I hope there’s a second book in the works. There are nods to the Teen Titan fans know, including his green hair, his fanboy, upbeat attitude, and his self-deprecating humor. Kami Garcia nails it, as always, and Gabriel Picolo does his favorite Teen Titan (read the author and illustrator notes at the beginning of the book) justice by capturing Beast Boy’s look and attitude perfectly. Another DC YA graphic novel hit.

 

 

 

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

Graphic Novels, Life Stories

I’ve been really loving the graphic novels coming out this year. Lots of life stories have found their voices in the pages of graphic novels; it’s a trend I’m enjoying, because the artwork really helps bring a person’s story to full, visual life, with little nuances and nods to things not always easily described with just words. Shades of grey; pops of color; a flash of a poster in a teen’s room: these are all things that a graphic novel can illustrated and communicate much more easily and quickly, reaching visual readers who may otherwise not experience the full breadth of a story. Here are some great lives I’ve read about recently.

Frankie, by Rachel Dukes, (Oct. 2020, Oni Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781549306884

Ages 12+

This is the sweetest book! Cartoonist Rachel Dukes is the Lucy Knisley of pet parenthood, as she chronicles life with her cat, Frankie. Rachel and their spouse, Mike, find the cutest black and white kitten outside their door, and Rachel is in love. Inspired by Rachel’s webcomic, Frankie is a series of vignettes in pet parenting, with comics taken from their webcomic and with some new material. Cat-lovers and pet-lovers will all recognize moments like Frankie choosing Rachel’s backpack over a snuggly new bed; the conversations we have with our furry friends; the nicknames we give them, and many, many, bedtime moments (what is it about sneezing in our faces as they settle in on our chests?). Frankie is adorable and full of personality that comes shining through the page. Rachel’s artwork is fun and expressive, silly and upbeat: it’s just what so many of us need to read these days! Each vignette has a name that pet parents will relate to, including moments like “Language Barriers”, “The Box”, “Night Song”, and “Cuddles”. Rachel includes a section on Quick Tips for Aspiring Cat Parents. Talk up to your readers who love Chi’s Sweet Home and Pusheen, and visit Rachel’s Frankie website for adorable downloadables! See more of their artwork on Rachel’s Instagram, and read more of their comics and buy some swag by clicking here, at MixTape Comics.

Little Josephine: A Memory in Pieces, by Valérie Villieu/Illustrated by Raphaël Sarfati, (Apr. 2020, Humanoids Inc.), $17.99, ISBN: 9781643375342

Ages 12+

Visiting nurse Valérie Villieu tells the story of Josephine, a patient that touched her heart, in this aching and quietly lovely story that examines the bonds between patient and nurse while it gives readers a look at the unsettling treatment of the elderly by overwhelmed social workers and home health aides. Josephine, an Alzheimer’s patient, lives alone in a Paris apartment when Valérie is assigned to her. While Josephine is at first resistant to Valérie’s help, the two eventually find common ground in humor. As Valérie strives to learn more about her charge, she discovers that Josephine is a playful, charming woman who enjoys conversation. Valérie expresses her frustration at an overloaded health care system, which leaves an elderly woman in the care of a conservator who just isn’t able to keep up with their caseload – a relatable, upsetting issue. Josephine’s lapses are creatively envisioned in fractured panels, where she’s swept away on her bed, or thrust into the middle of a chaotic panel. The colors are muted shades, giving the story a quiet dignity, even as we ache, seeing Josephine increasingly lost in her own world. A beautiful story of connection and a painful memoir of Alzheimer’s from a caregiver’s point of view, Little Josephine is gorgeous storytelling. Back matter includes an author’s note on Alzheimer’s Disease.

Gender Queer, by Maia Kobabe, (May 2019, Oni Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781549304002

Ages 14+

Gender Queer is illustrator Maia Kobabe (pronouns: e/em/eir)’s autobiography. Assigned female at birth but never quite feeling that designation fit, Kobabe journals em’s journey through fandom, identity, and sexuality; finally coming to the discovery that nonbinary and asexual are the best descriptors. From a rustic childhood, through puberty, high school, college, and grad school, we walk with Maia through years of introspection and self-discovery. Written as a journal, readers will hopefully see themselves, or gain an understanding of others as Kobabe describes the trauma of body dysmorphia and gynecological exams; appreciate em’s supportive family, and come away with sensitivity and compassion. Have this available for readers who identify as nonbinary or asexual. There are some strong resources to keep available for asexual and nonbinary readers, including Queer Books for Teens, and booklists from YALSA, Book Riot, GoodReads, and Tor. Author Jeanne G’Fellers has an excellent author webpage, including The Enby Booklist, containing fiction, nonfiction, and poetry with a non-binary focus. There is a lesson plan available for Gender Queer through Diamond Bookshelf.

Gender Queer has a starred review from School Library Journal, is a 2020 ALA Alex Award Winner and a 2020 Stonewall — Israel Fishman Non-fiction Award Honor Book.

Invisible Differences: A Story of Asperger’s, Adulting, and Living a Life in Full Color, by Julie Dachez, (Oct. 2020, Oni Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9781620107669

Ages 12+

From her opening dedication: “This comic is dedicated to you. You, the deviants. People who are ‘too much like this’ or ‘not enough like that’, Julie Dachez creates a safe, welcoming space for readers delving into her graphic novel, revealing what life is like for a person living with Asperger’s Syndrome. Twenty-seven-year-old Marguerite loves staying home with her books, her little dog, her purring cats, and her soft pajamas. Within her silent apartment, they form her “cocoon”. She’s stressed by commuting to her job, but relies on routines to usher her through her day. Coworkers don’t seem to understand her. Her boyfriend is frustrated because she doesn’t want to go to parties and socialize as he does. As she searches for answers to her anxiety, she discovers that she is not alone: there is a community of people with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism, and their experiences are there, online for Marguerite to read. No longer in the dark and alone, she begins a search for the right therapist, and the resources she needs to advocate for herself.

Julie Dachez’s black and white artwork skillfully uses reds and yellows to communicate Marguerite’s stressors and anxiety: loud conversations and everyday noise; panels are bathed in red to denote stressful moments in Marguerite’s day, when her defenses are running low, gradually fading back to black and white as she separates herself from social situations to recharge. Her red sneakers are the sole point of red that provide a reassuring, routine constant. Back matter includes a history of autism, information on Asperger’s Syndrome, and a list of resources for further reading (incuding children’s books!). A good book to have in your collection; consider also purchasing Camouflage: The Hidden Lives of Autistic Women, a nonfiction graphic novel by Dr. Sarah Bargeila and illustrated by Sophie Standing.

Posted in picture books, Uncategorized

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Along the Tapajós

Along the Tapajós, by Fernando Vilela/Translated by Daniel Hahn, (Oct. 2019, Amazon Crossing Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1542008686

Ages 5-8

Amazon Crossing Kids’ latest picture book in translation, Along the Tapajós, is the story of Cauā and Inaê, a brother and sister who live in Pará, a Brazilian state along the Tapajós River. The home in Pará are built on stilts, and there are no school buses: kids travel to school by boat! When the winter season arrives, everyone returns home to pack up their homes and relocate to higher ground to wait out the rains. But when the family arrives at their new location, the siblings realize that Titi, their pet tortoise, has been left behind! Tortoises can’t swim, so Titi faces either drowning in the flooding or starving to death, but Ma stands firm: they’re not going back until the summer season. Determined to rescue their pet, Cauā and Inaê slip away that evening and head back to their home to rescue Titi.

Inspired by one of author Fernando Vilela’s trips to the Amazon Rainforest Along the Tapajós introduces readers to a different culture and a different way of life: going to school by boat? Living in a house on stilts, and moving with the seasons? There is so much going on in Along the Tapajós! While introducing a different way of life to kids, the story links readers through the love of a pet, the fear of forgetting and losing something beloved, and the excitement of an adventure to rescue it.

The digital and woodcut artwork is stunning, with vibrant, bright colors to celebrate the biodiversity of the Amazon: the endpapers show multicolored birds sitting on webs of crossed branches, and opaque waters with a glimpse at the life underneath; yellows, blues, and black stripes all show through the obscured water view. The artwork throughout is stunning, with bold colors and black line work, and images of communities working together to move to a safe space.

Most of my library kids are from countries in Central and South America. I can’t wait to read this to them and see what they think. Maybe I’ll hand out tortoise coloring sheets for an after-story craft! Ooh… and maybe have them contribute to an anaconda that will stretch across some of my display space… okay, I’m off to plan a rainforest storytime (I’ll be using Pragmatic Mom’s suggestions to start me off, along with one of my all-time favorite storytime books, The Perfect Siesta.)

Originally published in 2015 in Brazilian Portuguese, Along the Tapajós is available on October 1 and has a starred review from Kirkus. It also made School Library Journal‘s list, “The Marvelous Translated Picture Books of 2019 (So Far)“.

Fernando Vilela is an award-winning author and illustrator from Brazil. Published in Brazil under the title Tapajós, this book was inspired by one of his trips to the Amazon rainforest. He has received many awards for his books, and he has exhibited his artwork at home and abroad, including at the MoMA in New York and the Pinacoteca of the State of São Paulo. For his picture books, he has received five Jabuti awards (Brazil) and the New Horizons Honorable Mention of the Bologna Ragazzi International Award. He is also a plastics artist, and he teaches courses, lectures, and workshops on art and illustration. Learn more about him online at www.fernandovilela.com.br.

Daniel Hahn is an author, editor, and award-winning translator. His translation of The Book of Chameleons by José Eduardo Agualusa won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2007. His translation of A General Theory of Oblivion, also by José Eduardo Agualusa, won the 2017 International Dublin Literary Award. He recently served on the board of trustees of the Society of Authors. In 2017, Hahn helped establish the TA First Translation Prize, a new prize for debut literary translation. Learn more about him online at www.danielhahn.co.uk.

★“The vibrant colors in Vilela’s illustrations and the expressive faces of Cauã and Inaê bring lightheartedness to their dangerous journey and the cyclical living it prescribes. A riveting journey.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“This is one of those engaging titles that offers a glimpse of a location new to most American readers. More translations like this one, please!” —Fuse #8 Production

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Along the Tapajós, courtesy of Amazon Crossing (U.S. addresses). Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Can friendship can make Spiky less prickly?

Spiky, by Ilaria Guarducci/Translated by Laura Watkinson, (June 2019, Amazon Crossing Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542040433

Ages 4-8

Spiky is one of the new books from Amazon’s new imprint, Amazon Crossing Kids, publishing children’s books in translation. Originally published in Italian, Spiky tells the story of a rather prickly fellow named Spiky. He’s brown and covered with spikes, and he’s a big bully. His spikes keep everyone around him at arm’s length, and he just revels in being mean; he pulls the wings off butterflies, he puts birds in glass jars, and he pokes holes in snail shells, all for the sake of being mean. But one day, his spikes start falling out. Before he knows it, Spiky is now a big, pink, spikeless marshmallow who isn’t scary at all. How the tables have turned! Bernardo, a kind bunny, befriends Spiky and shows him how nice it is to be surrounded by friends, especially when there are no spikes to stand between them. Eventually, Spiky’s spikes come back and he begins to re-embrace the Bad Side, but his heart just isn’t in it anymore. Bernardo still sees his friend under all those spikes, and that kind gesture is all Spiky needs to realize that feeling good is pretty darn awesome.

Spiky is a sweet story about a bully who changes his ways and the difference having one good friend can make. Spiky is raised to be mean – the story even notes that his father sends him to “the best school for badness in the whole country” – giving readers a heads-up, particularly us grown-ups, that children learn what they live. Raised and encouraged to be mean, Spiky’s badness runs unchecked until he finds himself in a vulnerable position. From here, Bernardo the bunny comes in and nudges the story into a sweet one of redemption and friendship, leading Spiky down a very different, upbeat path by showing him kindness.

A cute story for storytime, and offers some good moments for discussion with preschoolers to second graders. Ilaria Guarducci’s Facebook page also offers some adorable Spiky artwork that you can have your kiddos easily create: get some brown (and pink) construction paper, a box of toothpicks, some glue, and voila!

See more of Ilaria Guarducci’s artwork at her blog.