Tuesday, March 25, 2008

PLANETESME PICKS: A 2007 INDEX

Well, spring has sprung, and so has the new book season, so, as promised, it is time to look back on all of the best of the best of this busy year! It was a frenetic 2007, moving the bookroom and having worked full-time as a school librarian, but I still managed to consider over seven hundred titles. Of that bevy of books, here are the bunch that rose to the top, the cream of the crop! When I look at this list I am renewed in my resolve that children's literature is our best hope for equalizing education and that even when schools fail, children don't have to, with the help of all that books have to share. History! Arts! Poetry! Astrophysics! Beautiful multicultural offerings! Laughter! Adventure! It's all here, folks, but best of all, when I look at this list, I see books that kids will actually enjoy! I hope this will be handy for folks looking to confidently build family collections, choosing perfect gifts for beloved children or developing collections for their school or public libraries, and for authors and illustrators looking for publishers that support the kind of books they are creating. I have to make a few special commendations:

Favorites for sharing in a classroom setting:
THE ESCAPE OF ONEY JUDGE: HOW MARTHA WASHINGTON'S SLAVE FOUND FREEDOM by Emily Arnold McCully (Farrar Straus Giroux)
GINGER BEAR by Mini Grey (Knopf)
GOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES! VOICES FROM A MEDIEVAL VILLAGE by Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrated by Robert Byrd (Candlewick)
THE JEWEL-BOX BALLERINAS by Monique De Varennes, illustrated by Ana Juan (Schwartz & Wade)
MY DOG IS AS SMELLY AS DIRTY SOCKS by Hanoch Piven (Schwartz & Wade)
RICKSHAW GIRL by Mitali Perkins (Charlesbridge)
THE END by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Richard Egielski (Scholastic)
THOSE SHOES by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones (Candlewick)

Made me laugh the hardest:
17 THINGS I'M NOT ALLOWED TO DO ANYMORE by Jenny Offill, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter (Schwartz & Wade, 2006) (even though it was very naughty)
DEAR MISS PERFECT: A BEAST'S GUIDE TO PROPER BEHAVIOR by Sandra Dutton (Houghton Mifflin)
SQUIRREL'S WORLD by Lisa Moser, illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev (Candlewick)
STARRING MISS DARLENE by Amy Schwartz (Roaring Brook)

Made me cry every time I read it:
HALF A WORLD AWAY by Libby Gleeson, illustrated by Freya Blackwood (Scholastic)

My favorite book of the year:
ARTIST TO ARTIST: 23 MAJOR ILLUSTRATORS TALK TO CHILDREN ABOUT THEIR ART to benefit the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art (Philomel), tied with
HERE'S A LITTLE POEM: A VERY FIRST BOOK OF POETRY by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters, illustrated by Polly Dunbar (Candlewick) (my new favorite baby gift)

Biggest hits with reluctant readers:
EVERY MINUTE ON EARTH by Steve and Matthew Murrie, illustrated by Mary Anne Lloyd (Scholastic)
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID series b Jeff Kinney (Abrams)
THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET by Brian Selznick (Scholastic)
TITANIC by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Brian Sanders (Candlewick)
TWELVE ROUNDS TO GLORY: THE STORY OF MUHAMMAD ALI by Charles R. Smith, Jr., illustrated by Bryan Collier (Candlewick)
THE SEEMS: A GLITCH IN SLEEP by John Hulme and Michael Wexler (Bloomsbury USA)

Book that deserved a prize even if the illustrator doesn't have any more room on the shelf:
HOW TO PAINT THE PORTRAIT OF A BIRD by Jacques Prévert, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein (Roaring Brook Press)

Book that isn't on the list because I didn't get to it but it was my son's favorite read this year:
FROM CHARLIE'S POINT OF VIEW by Richard Scrimger (Puffin) (thanks, Russell!)

Now's the time to fix yourself a cup of tea or fetch a pint of Ben and Jerry's and look over this index, below. As a special incentive, if you "comment" below on your favorite pick or make your own addition or category by March 31st , U.S. residents will be entered in a random drawing for the new unabridged Listening Library undabridged audio version of VIVE LA PARIS, narrated by Tichina Arnold (of Everybody Hates Chris fame!) on CD, a $38.00 value!

And if you need bookplates for your new acquisitions, shop with Esme at One Good Bumblebee (the "don't be a blowhole, return this book" plate kills me!) and the super snazzy personalized retro plates at The Paper Princess make amazing gifts for booklovers or baby showers. Both purveyors are from Etsy, oh, the joys of shopping handmade! I have to confess, though, my standard is still the Aliki "Sharing" plate from Kidstamps, who also have rubber stamp plates, and then there is the insane dream-come-true website My Home Library with gorgeous downloadable bookplates designed by primarily British illustrators, like Quentin Blake and Tony Ross and Brian Wildsmith! I kid you not! So go look, and come back!

For your convenience, I have added links to my review or Amazon (I actually evaluated more books than I was able to review this year, though I will try to continue to write them up). Keep in mind, I link to Amazon because it is such an amazing clearinghouse of reviews and information, but it's always a good idea to support your local independent bookseller, because then you are supporting your own community! I also played a little catch-up, and those books are so marked; you can see a complete list of 2006 PlanetEsme Picks and even further back at planetesme.com. I'm glad PlanetEsme can be a place where the door to finding the right reader is always open, whatever the year of book publication.

Okay, enough blabbing! Here is the 2007 PlanetEsme Pick Index:

PICTURE BOOKS
17 THINGS I'M NOT ALLOWED TO DO ANYMORE by Jenny Offill, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter (Schwartz & Wade, 2006)
AND THE TRAIN GOES by WIlliam Bee (Candlewick)
ANDREW HENRY'S MEADOW by Doris Burn (San Juan, reissue)
THE ARRIVAL by Shaun Tan (Scholastic)
AUGUSTINE by Mélanie Watt (Kids Can Press)
BALLET SISTERS: THE DUCKLING AND THE SWAN by Jan Ormerod (Scholastic)
BIG BAD BUNNY by Franny Billingsley, illustrated by G. Brian Karas (Atheneum)
THE BLABBER REPORT by True Kelley (Dutton)
THE BOY WHO PAINTED DRAGONS by Demi (McElderberry)
THE CASTLE ON HESTER STREET by Linda Heller, illustrated by Boris Kulikov (Simon & Schuster, reissue)
THE CHICKEN-CHASING QUEEN OF LAMAR COUNTY by Janice Harrington, illustrated by Shelley Jackson (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
COCK-A-DOODLE-HOOOOOOO! by Mick Manning, illustrated by Brita Grandstrom (Good Books)
DELILAH D. AT THE LIBRARY by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Rosie Reeve (Clarion)
DINO-PETS by Lynne Plourde, illustrated by Gideon Kendall (Dutton)
THE DOG CHILD by Simon Black, illustrated by Gernimo Garcia (Cinco Puntos)
THE DUMPSTER DIVER by Janet Wong, illustrated by David Roberts (Candlewick)
FIONA'S LUCK by Teresa Bateman, illustrated by Kelly Murphy (Charlesbridge)
FIRE UP WITH READING by Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa (Upstart)
FIRST THE EGG by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (Roaring Brook)
FIVE LITTLE GEFILTES by Dave Horowitz (Putnam)
FIVE NICE MICE by Chisato Tashiro (Penguin)
FIX IT, SAM! by Lori Reis, illustrated by Sue Rama (Charlesbridge)
FOUR FEET, TWO SANDALS by Karen Lynn William and Khadra Mohammad, illustrated by Doug Chayka (Eerdmanns)
GATOR by Randy Cecil (Candlewick)
GINGER BEAR by Mini Grey (Knopf)
THE GINGERBREAD GIRL by Lisa Campbell Ernst (Dutton, 2006)
HALF A WORLD AWAY by Libby Gleeson, illustrated by Freya Blackwood (Scholastic)
HAIR FOR MAMA by Kelly A. Tinkham, illustrated by Amy June Bates (Dial)
THE HOUND FROM THE POUND by Jessica Swaim, illustrated by Jill McElmurry (Candlewick)
HOW TO PAINT THE PORTRAIT OF A BIRD by Jacques Prévert, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein (Roaring Brook)
I DON'T LIKE GLORIA by Kaye Umansky, illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain (Candlewick)
THE INCREDIBLE BOOK EATING BOY by Oliver Jeffers (Philomel)
IVAN THE TERRIER by Peter Catalanotto (Atheneum)
JABBERWOCKY by Lewis Carroll, illustrated by Christopher Meyers (Jump at the Sun)
THE JEWEL-BOX BALLERINAS by Monique De Varennes, illustrated by Ana Juan (Schwartz & Wade)
THE LEMON SISTERS by Andrea Cheng, illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss (Putnam, 2006)
LET'S TAKE OVER THE KINDERGARTEN by Richard Hamilton, illustrated by Sue Heap (Bloomsbury)
LISSY'S FRIENDS by Grace Lin (Viking)
LITTLE HOOT by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Jen Corace (Chronicle)
LITTLE EAGLE by Chen Jiang Hong (Enchanted Lion Books)
LOVE THE BABY by Steven Layne, illustrated by Ard Hoyt (Pelican)
THE MAGIC RABBIT by Annette LeBlanc Cate (Candlewick)
MEERKAT MAIL by Emily Gravett (Simon and Schuster)
THE MOON MIGHT BE MILK by Lisa Schulman, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand (Dutton)
NEW CLOTHES FOR NEW YEAR'S DAY by Hyun-Joo Bae (Kane/Miller)
MOTHERBRIDGE OF LOVE by Xinran, illustrated by Josée Masse (Barefoot)
MY DOG IS AS SMELLY AS DIRTY SOCKS by Hanoch Piven (Schwartz & Wade)
MY LITTLE GRANDMOTHER OFTEN FORGETS by Reeve Lindbergh, illustrated by Kathryn Brown (Candlewick)
PENGUIN by Polly Dunbar (Candlewick)
PIANO PIANO by Davide Cali, illustrated by Eric Heliot (Charlesbridge)
PIGS LOVE POTATOES by Anika Denise, illustrated by Chrisopher Denise (Philomel)
THE PRINCESS AND THE PEA by Rachel Isadora (Putnam)
PRINCESS GRACE by Mary Hoffman,illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying Hwa-Hu (Dial)
PUNK FARM ON TOUR by Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Knopf)
OVER IN THE MEADOW AT THE BIG BALLET by Lisa Shulman (Putnam)
PRETTY SALMA: A LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD STORY FROM AFRICA by Niki Daly (Clarion)
RED RED RED by Valeri Gorbachev (Philomel)
SKY SWEEPER by Phyllis Gershator, illustrated by Holly Meade (Farrar Straus & Giroux)
SQUIRREL'S WORLD by Lisa Moser, illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev (Candlewick)
STARRING MISS DARLENE by Amy Schwartz (Roaring Brook)
THE STORY OF CHERRY THE PIG by Utako Yamada (Kane/Miller)
SUGAR CANE: A CARIBBEAN RAPUNZEL by Patricia Storace, illustrated by Raul Colon (Jump at the Sun)
THE END by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Richard Egielski (Scholastic)
THOSE SHOES by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones (Candlewick)
THUMBELINA OF TOULABA by Daniel Picouly, illustrated by Olivier Tallec (Enchanted Lion)
UNBRELLA by Scott E. Franson (Roaring Brook)
WHO'S HIDING? by Satoru Onishi (Kane/Miller)
THE ZOO by Suzy Lee (Kane/Miller)

FICTION
ALCATRAZ VERSUS THE EVIL LIBRARIANS by Brandon Sanderson (Scholastic)
CELESTE'S HARLEM RENAISSANCE by Eleanora E. Tate (Little, Brown)
THE COYOTE ROAD: TRICKSTER TALES edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (Viking)
A CROOKED KIND OF PERFECT by Linda Urban (Harcourt)
DEAR MISS PERFECT: A BEAST'S GUIDE TO PROPER BEHAVIOR by Sandra Dutton (Houghton Mifflin)
DEXTER THE TOUGH by Margaret Peterson Haddix, illustrated by Mark Elliott (Simon & Schuster)
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID series b Jeff Kinney (Abrams)
ELIJAH OF BUXTON by Christopher Paul Curtis (Scholastic)
EMMY AND THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING RAT by Lynne Jonell (Holt)
THE ENTERTAINER AND THE THE DYBBUK by Sid Fleischman (Greenwillow)
THE FABLED FOURTH GRADERS OF AESOP ELEMENTARY by Candace Fleming (Schwartz & Wade)
GEORGE'S SECRET KEY TO THE UNIVERSE by Lucy and Stephen Hawking (Simon & Schuster)
GOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES! VOICES FROM A MEDIEVAL VILLAGE by Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrated by Robert Byrd (Candlewick)
HATCHET: THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION by Gary Paulsen (Simon & Schuster)
HOW TO STEAL A DOG by Barbara O'Connor (Farrar Straus and Giroux)
THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET by Brian Selznick (Scholastic)
JACK PLANK TELLS TALES by Natalie Babbitt (Scholastic)
KEEKER series by Hadley Higginson, illustrated by Maja Anderson (Chronicle)
LITTLE FUR series by Isobelle Carmody (Random House, 2006)
LETTERS FROM RAPUNZEL by Sara Lewis Holmes (HarperCollins)
MIDDLE SCHOOL IS WORSE THAN MEATLOAF: A YEAR TOLD IN STUFF by Jennifer Holm (Atheneum)
MOOMIN: THE COMPLETE TOVE JANSSON COMIC STRIP by Tove Jansson (Drawn and Quarterly)
MOXY MAXWELL DOES NOT LOVE STUART LITTLE by Peggy Fisher (Schwartz and Wade)
THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY by Trenton Lee Stewart (Little, Brown)
THE NEDDIAD by Daniel Pinkwater (Houghton Mifflin)
PAINT THE WIND by Pam Munoz Ryan (Scholastic)
PUPPET PANDEMONIUM by Diane Roberts (Delacorte)
PIPER REED: NAVY BRAT by Kimberly Willis Holt, illustrated by Christine Davenier (Holt)
THE PUZZLING WORLD OF WINSTON BREEN by Eric Berlin (Putnam)
RICKSHAW GIRL by Mitali Perkins (Charlesbridge)
REACHING FOR SUN by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer (Bloomsbury USA)
ROBOT DREAMS by Sara Varon (First Second Books/Roaring Brook)
THE SEEMS: A GLITCH IN SLEEP by John Hulme and Michael Wexler (Bloomsbury USA)
SOMEONE NAMED EVA by Joan M. Wolf (Clarion)
STEALING HOME by Ellen Schwartz (Tundra, 2006)
TASTING THE SKY: A PALESTINIAN CHILDHOOD by Ibtisam Barakat (Farrar Strauss Giroux)
THEODOSIA AND THE SERPENTS OF CHAOS by R.L. LaFevers (Houghton Mifflin)
THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY by Adam Rex (Hyperion)
THE WEDNESDAY WARS by Gary D. Schmidt (Clarion)
WHERE I LIVE by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Matt Phelan (Dial)
YELLOW STAR by Jennifer Roy (Marshall Cavendish, 2006)

NONFICTION
1607: A NEW LOOK AT JAMESTOWN by Karen E. Lange, photos by Ira Block (National Geographic)
ARTIST TO ARTIST: 23 MAJOR ILLUSTRATORS TALK TO CHILDREN ABOUT THEIR ART to benefit the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art (Philomel)
ARCHIE'S WAR: MY SCRAPBOOK OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR by Marcia Williams (Candlewick)
C IS FOR CABOOSE: RIDING THE RAILS FROM A TO Z by Traci Todd (Chronicle)
CAPOEIRA! GAME! DANCE! MARTIAL ART! by George Ancona (Lee & Low)
CITY HAWK: THE STORY OF PALE MALE by Meghan McCarthy (Simon & Schuster)
DADBLAMED UNION ARMY COW by Susan Fletcher, illustrated by Kimberly Bulcken Root (Candlewick)
DELICIOUS: THE LIFE AND ART OF WAYNE THIEBAUD by Susan Goldman Rubin (Chronicle)
DIFFERENT LIKE COCO by Elizabeth Matthews (Candlewick)
DINOMUMMY by Dr. Philip Lars Manning (Kingfisher)
DINOSAURS: THE MOST COMPLETE, UP-TO-DATE ENCYCLOPEDIA FOR DINOSAUR LOVERS OF ALL AGES by Dr. Thomas Holtz Jr., illustrated by Luis V. Rey (Random House)
DISGUISED: A WARTIME MEMOIR by Rita la Fontaine de Clerq Zubli (Candlewick)
DOGS AND CATS by Steve Jenkins (Houghton Mifflin)
DRUMBEAT IN OUR FEET by Patricia A. Keeler and Julio T. Leitao, illustrated by Patricia Keeler (Lee & Low)
ESCAPE! THE STORY OF THE GREAT HOUDINI by Sid Fleischman (Greenwillow, 2006)
THE ESCAPE OF ONEY JUDGE: HOW MARTHA WASHINGTON'S SLAVE FOUND FREEDOM by Emily Arnold McCully (Farrar Straus & Giroux)
EXPLORER: A DARING GUIDE FOR YOUNG ADVENTURERS by Henry Hardcastle (Candlewick)
EXTREME DINOSAURS by Robert Mash, illustrated by Stuart Martin (Atheneum)
GERSHWIN'S RHAPSODY IN BLUE by Anna Harwell Celenza, illustrated by JoAnn Kitchel (Charlesbridge)
GIANT POP-OUT SHAPES by Meagan Bennett (Chronicle)
THE GOLDEN RULE by Ilene Cooper, illustrated by Gabi Swiatowska (Abrams)
GREEN EGGS AND HAM COOKBOOK by Georgeanne Brennan and Dr. Seuss (Random House, 2006)
HANUKKAH AT VALLEY FORGE by Stephen Krensky, illustrated by Greg Harlin (Dutton, 2006)
HENRY'S FREEDOM BOX by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Scholastic)
HERE'S A LITTLE POEM: A VERY FIRST BOOK OF POETRY by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters, illustrated by Polly Dunbar (Candlewick)
A HORSE IN THE HOUSE AND OTHER STRANGE BUT TRUE ANIMAL STORIES by Gail Ablow, illustrated by Kathy Osborn (Candlewick)
EVERY MINUTE ON EARTH by Steve and Matthew Murrie, illustrated by Mary Anne Lloyd (Scholastic)
FOOTWORK: THE STORY OF FRED AND ADELE ASTAIRE by Rocanne Orgill, illustrated by Stéphanie Jorisch (Candlewick)
THE GIRL'S LIKE SPAGHETTI by Lynne Truss, by Bonnie Timmons (Putnam)
A GOLDEN LEGACY by Leonard S. Marcus (Golden, adult)
I AM MARC CHAGALL by Bimba Landmann (Eerdmans)
IF YOU CAN READ MUSIC, THANK GUIDO D'AREZZO by Susan Roth (Houghton Mifflin)
JANE ADDAMS: CHAMPION OF DEMOCRACY by Dennis Brinell Fradin and Judith Bloom Fradin (Clarion, 2006)
JAZZ ABZ by Wynton Marsalis, illustrated by Phil Schapp (Candlewick)
LIVING COLOR by Steve Jenkins (Houghton Mifflin)
MEET THE MUSICIANS: FROM PRODIGIES (OR NOT) TO PROS by Amy Nathan (Holt, 2006)
P IS FOR PRINCESS: A ROYAL ALPHABET by Stephen and Deborah Layne, illustrated by Robert and Lisa Papp (Sleeping Bear)
PALEO SHARKS by Timothy J. Bradley (Chronicle)
A PRINCESS PRIMER by Stephanie True Peters (Dutton)
RED BUTTERFLY: HOW A PRINCESS SMUGGLED THE SECRET OF SILK OUT OF CHINA by Deborah Noyes, illustrated by Sophie Blackall (Candlewick)
A SECOND IS A HICCUP: A CHILD'S BOOK OF TIME by Hazel Hutchins, illustrated by Lady McDonald Denton (Scholastic)
THE SNOW BABY: THE ARCTIC CHILDHOOD OF ROBERT E. PEARY'S DARING DAUGHTER by Katherine Kirkpatrick (Holiday House)
SOPHISTICATED LADIES: THE GREAT WOMEN OF JAZZ by Leslie Gourse, illustrated by Martin French (Dutton)
THE SPATULATTA COOKBOOK by Isabella and Olivia Gerasole (Scholastic)
STRONG MAN: THE STORY OF CHARLES ATLAS by Meghan McCarthy (Knopf)
TELL ME A PICTURE by Quentin Blake (Frances Lincoln, 2006)
THIS IS JUST TO SAY: POEMS OF APOLOGY AND FORGIVENESS by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski (Houghton Mifflin)
TITANIC by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Brian Sanders (Candlewick)
TITANIC: THE SHIP OF DREAMS by Duncan Crosbie and Ken Geist (Orchard)
TODAY AT THE BLUEBIRD CAFÉ by Deborah Ruddell, illustrated by Joan Rankin (McElderberry)
TRAILBLAZERS: POEMS OF EXPLORATION by Bobbi Katz,illustrated by Carin Berger (Greenwillow)
TWELVE ROUNDS TO GLORY: THE STORY OF MUHAMMAD ALI by Charles R. Smith, Jr., illustrated by Bryan Collier (Candlewick)
UNEVERSAURUS by Aiden Potts (David Fickling)
VINNIE AND ABRAHAM by Dawn Fitzgerald, illustrated by Catherine Stock (Charlesbridge)
WAR, WOMEN AND THE NEWS: HOW FEMALE JOURNALISTS WON THE BATTLE TO COVER WWII by Catherine Gourley (Atheneum)
WHEN IS A PLANET NOT A PLANET? THE STORY OF PLUTO by Elaine Scott (Clarion)
WHO PUT THE B IN BALLYHOO? THE MOST AMAZING, BIZARRE AND CELEBRATED CIRCUS PERFORMERS by Carlyn Beccia (Houghton Mifflin)
WOE IS I, JR. by Patricia O'Conner (Putnam)
YOGA POEMS by Janet S.Wong, illustrated by Julie Paschkis (McElderberry)
YOUNG PELÉ: SOCCER'S FIRST STAR by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome (Schwartz & Wade)

Thanks again for your patience and support this past year, and for all of the years! I look forward to what 2008 has in store...titles have already arrived, been read aloud and are queued up for review, so I hope you'll check in again. Happy reading, everyone!!!

Girl reading in library clip art by Mark A. Hicks, via Discovery Education.
Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to
support your local bookseller.

Monday, March 17, 2008

BACK IN A WEEK

Hello, friends! Just a quickie note...I've been having some trouble with my internet connection, and now I will be out of town and sans computer for a week! When I get back, I will have a list of the best books of the past year, so check in! Meanwhile, Happy St. Paddy's!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

THOSE SHOES (PICTURE BOOK)

PICTURE BOOK
THOSE SHOES by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones (Candlewick) Jeremy dreams of the black high-tops with two white stripes, perfect for running as fast as lightning, but after his own shoes fall apart, he finds himself stuck with some hand-me-down Velcro-tie shoes from the school office ("they have an animal on them from a cartoon I don't think any kid ever watched"). By some miracle, he finds a pair at the resale shop within his means; who cares if they are a half-size too small? But when he notices a classmate wearing shoes that are all taped up, Jeremy's conscience leads him to a very difficult decision. The dignity and spirit of the characters are never compromised in this story that recognizes, as children so often do, the heavy and sometimes unreasonable burden of trends and status. The refreshing depiction of an African-American boy helping a Caucasian child who is less fortunate than himself speaks to the modern segregation of poverty. Full of crisp, colorful, digitally-assembled illustration, there is no overcooked "grittiness" of an urban tale; instead, all readers and listeners will be touched by the true colors that come shining through. Proactive and ultimately cheerful, this story is a shoe-in for multicultural collections, and a valuable chance for everyone from all backgrounds and economic groups to reflect with appreciation on whatever they have. (6 and up)

Another picture book worthy of sharing and discussion across the grade levels, and that speaks to the best in children:
FOUR FEET, TWO SANDALS by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed, illustrated by Doug Chayka (Eerdmans) When relief workers throw clothing off of the back of a truck at a refugee camp, there is a mad scramble that leaves Lina with a single yellow sandal with a blue flower in the middle. Wearing the other sandal is a girl who becomes Lina's newfound friend. But when one of the families is going to be resettled in America, what will become of the shoes...and the friends? I was worried when I saw this book that it would be heavy-handed, but instead I found a universal and compelling story of two girls with generous spirits who wish to stay connected even when the world pulls them apart. The situation is dealt with sensitively for the intended age group, and the empathetic treatment of the subject makes for worthy and necessary reading in our global society. As an executive director of the Pittsburgh Refugee Center, co-author Mohammed has worked with refugees in the U.S. and abroad for more than twenty years. This story is based on her experience at a camp in Peshwar, on the Afghan-Pakistan border, a setting conveyed by broad brush-strokes in sandy acrylics. See if you can read it without choking up just a little bit. (7 and up)

You can read both of these books, and let someone else walk a mile in your moccasins with the fabulous Soles for Souls initiative, just the kind of drive kids can jump into with both feet!

Also of interest:
Looking for more great children's books from around the world? Check out the snazzy site at Shen's Books, dedicated to quality multicultural children's literature, Mitali Perkin's multicultural Fire Escape (oo, her fabulous RICKSHAW GIRL is finally available in paperback; I think I need a classroom set of thirty!) and the thoughtful annotated multicultural bibliographies made available by author Cynthia Leitich Smith. Remember, one of the joys in reading is finding yourself reflected in books; the other joy is making "friends" and visiting places far removed from your own experience! Multicultural literature offers both!

And on the subject of shoes...
Shop with Esme
Just in time for the mud season, these Candy Toss Rain Boots from Dylan's Candy Bar in New York really go with anything, I think!

On a personal note:
Besides children's literature, one of my great passions in life is celebrating the proud local traditions of children's media in Chicago (read THE GOLDEN AGE OF CHICAGO CHILDREN'S TELEVISION by Ted Okuda and Jack Mulqueen for an awesome look at what I'm talking about!). Being a children's book author and a teacher is terrific fun, but my dream is life is to someday have a read-aloud radio show, and then work up the gumption to pitch a show for my favorite local station, WCIU, in the style of, like, if my idols Dinah Shore and Pee-Wee Herman mated, and had me.

+
=










I'm working on it! Meanwhile, still on the subject of shoes, put on your dancing ones and watch a favorite retro idol, Pandora, in the opening of the KIDDIE-A-GO-GO show (yes, I know I have a lot of idols, so what, I can't help it, there are and have been so many great, fun people to look up to)! So, boys and girls, are you ready to "TWISTANDSHOUT" ?!?! This kid doing the backstroke just kills me every time...

video

Note to self: bring disco ball to the library!

Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

TRUCK STUCK (PICTURE BOOK)

PICTURE BOOK
TRUCK STUCK by Sallie Wolf, illustrated by Andy Robert Davies (Charlesbridge)
Somewhere along your travels you may have seen a truck with a driver that has not properly estimated the height of a viaduct. I know that my first, sad thought whenever I see this situation is, "oh, dear, somebody is losing his job today." The author looked at this same situation, and saw inspiration. Not just another "truck book," this story manages to have true drama and excitement conveyed through pert and perfect rhymes ('Traffic cops./Whistles blow./Try to tow./No go."), offering some solid sight-word vocabulary for emergent readers. Clearly drawn, cartoonish artwork has lots of color, comedy and dramatic swirling smoke to add to the fray, plus the car line-ups depicted are charmingly akin to the "parades" I've seen little boys create across kitchen floors. With plenty to point at and laught at, this book is going to be an action-packed favorite that, like Richard Scarry's CARS AND TRUCKS AND THINGS THAT GO, bears repeated reading. Best of all, we find out how such trucks really do get unstuck. I've always wondered! (4 and up)

Also of interest:
One good laugh deserves another, n'est-ce pas?
SQUIRREL'S WORLD by Lisa Moser, illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev (Candlewick)
As Shel Silverstein noted in his poem "Helping," "...some kind of help is the kind of help/That helping's all about,/And some kind of help is the kind of help/We all can do without." Apparently, Squirrel never read Shel Silverstein.
Squirrel was busy, busy, busy.
He had to help his tree. "Grow, grow, grow!" cheered Squirrel.
He had to help the river. "Flow, flow, flow!"
He had to help his friends. "Got to go. Got to go. Got to go, go, go!"
Whether nearly battering a mouse in a rain of apples, wearing out a weary turle with fun and games, or dousing an aquaphobic rabbit, the path to hell is always paved with squirrel's furry little good intentions, but luckily, by the fourth vignette, all's well in the end. Squirrel's pitch-perfect hyperactivity is a hysterically funny tribute to the tweaked, the kind of boundless, cheerful energy that exhausts everyone around (you know the type, I know you do), with engaging storylines and expressive, side-splitting illustrations that match the strong characterization throughout. Look at that squirrel shaking the branch so hard, his entire body is splayed in the air! Look at the excrutiation of turtle, tucked in his shell to avoid the bouncing mammal! Look at that squirrel's panic, in realizing he forgot to say good-night! Heaven's to Betsy, though Squirrel may have worn out his friends, he has hardly worn out his welcome, and I hope there are more, more, more adventures to come from the world that is the most wonderful since the one inhabited in Arnold Lobel's FROG AND TOAD. A great pick for read-aloud, or for very new chapter book readers. (5 and up)

IVAN THE TERRIER by Peter Catalanotto (Atheneum) "Once upon a time, deep in the forest, there lived three bears. Oh no! Sit! Ivan! Sit! This story is not about you! Bad dog!" Let's try again, shall we? "Once upon a time there were three little pigs...Not again! Ivan! Stay! Somebody grab him!" Screamingly funny slaptick marks the fairy-tale escapes of a poorly trained puppy who can't help but continually interrupt the tellings. After all, why shouldn't every story be about him? Children will enjoy recognizing their favorite folktales and seeing them ruthlessly deconstructed by the barking beast; the scene in which the Gingerbread Man is in the doggy's muzzle while Ivan wears a "who me?" expression is priceless. Well-timed page turning will have kids shouting out a la Mo Willems' DON'T LET A PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS. With his realistic, painterly style, Peter Catalanotto has achieved an amazingly accomplished body of work in his lifetime (EMILY'S ART and George Ella Lyon's MOTHER TO TIGERS among my favorites, and MATTHEW A.B.C. a popular classroom pick), and in this latest, he has really showcased his talent for humor, and an insight into what appeals and speaks to children. Good doggy! (5 and up)

On a personal note:
Oh, talented picture book authors and illustrators make it all look so easy, don't they! It is really a craft, which, if you live in the Chicago/Evanston area, you can hone by taking classes with author/illustrator Laura Montenegro. Her "Intuitive Suitcase" classes start Tuesday evenings from 7-9 p.m. or Wednesday evenings, 7-9 p.m. starting next week. In it, "you will develop a picture book dummy using your own blend of story creation, illustration, and book design. The dummy is your 'plan" and every publisher likes to see one when you submit your book....Far surpassing the singular arts necessary in the makin of picture books: illustration, story writing and book design, the book dummy invites the artist to combine all three." True dat, Laura! The author of several beautiful books herself, she has a lot of insight into both the artistic process as well as the business protocol. I have not taken the class myself, but sent friends and heard rave reviews ("I thought I would be self-conscious, but she made me brave about trying my art," "it was nice to leave with something I could really use") and, really, who couldn't use an intuitive suitcase? E-mail her at lauramontenegro(at)sbcglobal(dot) net (pardon the cryptic addy, trying to save her some spam) for a PDF of her pretty flyer with full details. And if you are an author/illustrator novice, make sure you check out membership in the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), a private organization that offers premier opportunities for professional growth and community around the country. I am not a "joiner," but writing coach, author and regional advisor Esther Hershenhorn was very persuasive, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made; the Illinois chapter is off the hook when it comes to on-line encouragement, special events and general celebration. Hope these links are helpful in creating the next chapter of your picture-book perfect writing life!


New feature: Shop with Esmé!

My guilty pleasure is on-line perusal, and I keep coming across such clever things, I thought I had better start sharing them. My latest consumer indulgence was a "Three Way Pad" from RoomServiceHome, I got the one divided into "tasks, errands, contact," but they also have "short term, medium term, long term" and "home, work, play." If only I was as good as doing what's on the lists as I am at making the lists! To-do! Ta-daaa! Ta-ta...

Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails