Showing posts from February, 2015

The Swallow: A Ghost Story - Charis Cotter

Since we're on the topic of ghost stories this week, I figured this was a solid addition to the genre. While this is a much more complex and serious novel than The Elevator Ghost, I think the two are each delightfully eerie!
In 1960s Toronto, two girls retreat to their attics to escape the loneliness and isolation of their lives. Polly lives in a house bursting at the seams with people, while Rose is often left alone by her busy parents. Polly is a down-to-earth dreamer with a wild imagination and an obsession with ghosts; Rose is a quiet, ethereal waif with a sharp tongue.Despite their differences, both girls spend their days feeling invisible and seek solace in books and the cozy confines of their respective attics. But soon they discover they aren't alone--they're actually neighbors, sharing a wall. Polly is ecstatic to learn that Rose can actually see and talk to ghosts. Maybe she will finally see one too! But is there more to Rose than it seems? Why does no one ever ta…

The Elevator Ghost - Glen Huser

When Carolina Giddle moves into the Blatchford Arms, no one knows what to make of her sequin-sprinkled sneakers and her trinket-crusted car. But the parents are happy there’s a new babysitter around, and Carolina seems to have an uncanny ability to calm the most rambunctious child with her ghostly stories. Armed with unusual snacks, candles to set the mood, and her trusty sidekick — a tarantula named Chiquita — Carolina entertains the children with some good old-fashioned storytelling and, at the end, a great Halloween party. 

Holy terror Angelo Bellini discovers that no one can throw a tantrum like a double-crossed pirate. Timid Hubert and Hetty Croop become inspired by the story of a boy who finds the perfect weapon for overcoming his fear of the dark. And Dwight and Dwayne Fergus, two would-be Freddy Kruegers, finally meet their match in Carolina's story of the footless skeleton. As for Carolina, it turns out she has a timeworn connection to the Blatchford Arms, and to the ghost…

The Crossover - Kwame Alexander

Yeah, yeah, I know, I'm WAAAY behind on reviewing this title. But now that I've had a chance to get to some books that I want to read as opposed to those that I have to read, I had the chance to read this gorgeous book! In case you haven't heard about it everywhere (it just won this little award called the Newbery!), here's a synopsis, courtesy of the interwebz:
"With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I'm delivering," announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he's got mad beats, too, that tell his family's story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood.Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story's heart-stopping cli…

28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World - Charles R. Smith Jr. and Shane W. Evans

Each day features a different influential figure in African-American history, from Crispus Attucks, the first man shot in the Boston Massacre, sparking the Revolutionary War, to Madame C. J. Walker, who after years of adversity became the wealthiest black woman in the country, as well as one of the wealthiest black Americans, to Barack Obama, the country's first African-American president.

This book is a unique addition to the body of children's non-fiction and picturebooks. The book serves as both a timeline of important moments in African American history and as a possible guide for celebrating Black History Month through a day-by-day guide. Smith's writing is wonderfully complemented by beautiful illustrations from Shane W. Evans. From portrait-like images, to more abstract art, from early figures in the fight for civil rights (Crispus Attucks), to African Americans in contemporary contexts (Barack Obama), covering men and women, lower class to middle class, individuals …

Red - Michael Hall

He was red.

But he wasn't very good at it.

Red: A Crayon's Story follows the journey of a crayon whose outsides and insides don't match. Everyone thinks they know how to fix things, but in the end, it becomes obvious that acceptance is what's really needed for Red.

Thus begins the story of Red, a crayon whose label doesn't match who he really is. This book is narrated by a pencil, and features a cast of crayons who don't quite know what to do about Red, since he just doesn't fit in.

At first glance, it's a book about a blue crayon that just got mislabeled, but upon closer inspection, readers will see that the book is so much more! This is a narrative about difference, about why labels don't always work for individuals, and about how individuals need to learn to accept others for their uniqueness.

Readers will empathize with Red. They will see how many layers of meaning can be held within an initially simple tale. The use of color is also remarkable, with…

Hug Machine - Scott Campbell

Who have YOU hugged today? Open your arms to this delightfully tender, goofy, and sweet tale.

Watch out world, here he comes! The Hug Machine!

Whether you are big, or small, or square, or long, or spikey, or soft, no one can resist his unbelievable hugs! HUG ACCOMPLISHED!

This endearing story encourages a warm, caring, and buoyantly affectionate approach to life. Everyone deserves a hug—and this book!

Hugs are awesome, and this books shows just how wonderful they can be when you practice. Hugs can "calm people down. They cheer them up. They make them go completely nuts." This book affirms those children with a more affectionate sides and reminds them that hugging has many benefits and is a truly wonderful sign of affection.
The color palette is soothing, consisting of warm pinks, flesh tones, browns, and other warm/neutral tones. Campbell's water colors will entice you and delight you. With his huge eyes, adorable outfit, and incredible hugging abilities, the Hug Machine will…

The Post-YMA Roundup

Now that it's been a few days since the (newly branded) Youth Media Awards were announced, it's time to look back with fresh eyes and share a few of my thoughts on the results of a year of hard reading by each committee. Let's start with the graphic novel love:

It seems to me that people are very much impressed by the inclusion of graphic novels in the two big awards this year. I am one of those people. I won't lie, though, I figured it wouldn't happen for a while. The way the criteria are written for the Newbery, while open to interpretation, does make it difficult to justify graphic novel inclusion at times. In my year on Newbery (Flora & Ulysses), I know people were surprised that a book with graphic novel elements would be considered at all, and then now, a year late, a full graphic novel has been honored. 

I was debating with a number of people over the weekend about whether or not there is a need for a new graphic novel award. I don't think that would h…

Egg & Spoon - Gregory Maguire

Oh my goodness, this is marvellous! Gregory Maguire, as always, continues to amaze me with his literary prowess (maybe that sounds a bit much, but I love his work!) Beautiful writing, rich setting,fully fleshed out characters, and fabulous twists on traditional Russian folklore make this a book that will stay with you for a long, long time.

Elena Rudina lives in the impoverished Russian countryside. Her father has been dead for years. One of her brothers has been conscripted into the Tsar’s army, the other taken as a servant in the house of the local landowner. Her mother is dying, slowly, in their tiny cabin. And there is no food. But then a train arrives in the village, a train carrying untold wealth, a cornucopia of food, and a noble family destined to visit the Tsar in Saint Petersburg — a family that includes Ekaterina, a girl of Elena’s age. When the two girls’ lives collide, an adventure is set in motion. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Full of traditional Maguire wit, Egg &…