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February 1, 2016 BOOKLIST
Find more Special Feature: Lasting Connections, 2013
Brush of the Gods. By Lenore Look. Illus. by Meilo So. 2013. 40p. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (9780375870019). K–Gr. 3.
With swirling brushstrokes and lyrical words, this vibrant picture book offers a “reimagined life” of Wu Daozi, a painter in late seventh-century China. While learning calligraphy, young Daozi begins to create spectacular images with the swoop of his brush. Eventually, he begins to paint on walls, and his fanciful images shimmer with such intensity that they seem to spring alive—and even vacate the surfaces on which they were created. Naysayers are finally outnumbered by fans, who accept the magic behind Daozi’s art, and the emperor commissions him to create a splendid mural for the palace wall. So’s watercolors dance across the spreads of this captivating story, which will find a place across the curriculum.
Fairy Tale Comics:Classic Tales Told by Extraordinary Cartoonists. Ed. by Chris Duffy. 2013. 128p. illus. First Second, $19.99 (9781596438231). 741.5. PreS–Gr. 2.
As in Nursery Rhyme Comics (2011), this winning compilation features offerings from some of the most celebrated comics artists, who reinterpret classic texts to thought-provoking and hilarious effect. Readers will recognize many familiar tales, from “Snow White” to “Goldilocks” to “Hansel and Gretel,” along with some more obscure selections, and a small note indicates each story’s source. Standouts include Emily Carroll’s wondrously textured “12 Dancing Princesses” and Luke Pearson’s eerie “The Boy Who Drew Cats.” Filled with humor, wonder, and a well-tuned interplay between words and images, this title will find wide appeal as both a classroom supplement and a personal reading choice.
Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems. By Marilyn Singer. Illus. by Josee Masse. 2013. 32p. Dial, $16.99 (9780803737693). 811. Gr. 2–5.
This lively companion to Mirror Mirror (2010) offers another fairy-tale- and fable-themed collection of free-verse poems, each paired with its “reverso,” or the same poem in reverse—a form that Singer invented. The flipped lines offer fresh, intriguing views of the classic tales that inspire each selection. In some cases, the reversed poems even create varying perspectives from different characters, as in “Ready, Steady, Go!,” which presents both the tortoise’s and the hare’s points of view. Beautifully rendered, richly hued illustrations artfully transition between each of the flipped scenarios and interweave fantastical details. Teachers and students alike will delight in this natural read-aloud choice, which may well inspire kids to try “reversos” of their own.
Ghost Hawk. By Susan Cooper. 2013. 336p. Simon & Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry, $16.99 (9781442481411). Gr. 6–10.
After spending three months alone as part of a coming-of-age ritual in his Pokanoket tribe, young Little Hawk returns to find his village decimated by disease. He finds a home in another community, where he encounters English settlers, including 10-year-old John Wakeley. The lives of the two boys become irreparably linked in this powerful, mysterious story—part thrilling wilderness survival, part piercing historical fiction— that asks essential questions about bigotry, religious tolerance, and America’s founding values.
How to Catch a Bogle. By Catherine Jinks. Illus. by Sarah Watts. 2013. 320p. Harcourt, $16.99 (9780544087088). Gr. 4–6.
In this intense historical thriller, the first volume of a planned trilogy from the author of the Evil Genius books and the Pagan series, 10-year-old Birdie is an apprentice to Alfred the Bogler: she receives food and shelter in exchange for her work, helping him trap and destroy the hungry, monstrous bogles (goblins) that lurk in houses, where they snatch and eat the occasional child. Her role in the business? Birdie is the bait, and she proves her mettle time and time again in this pitch-perfect, atmospheric tale set in 1870s London.
Little Red Writing. By Joan Holub. Illus. by Melissa Sweet. 2013. 36p. Chronicle, $16.99 (9780811878692). K–Gr. 3.
In this uproarious retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood,” Ms. 2, a pencil-shaped teacher, guides her similarly pointed-tipped class through a story-writing exercise. Little Red is eager to begin, and knowing that a good story often involves a journey, she sets off, armed with a basket of words for help along the way. From the “Verb Action Fitness Program” to an adverb delivery truck to a rescue tube of Conjunction Glue, the language play is both entertaining and instructive. Sweet’s exuberant illustrations reinforce the concepts with wit and energy. A perfect prompt for beginning writers to borrow from Little Red’s basket of words and try their own stories.
P.S. Be Eleven. By Rita Williams-Garcia. 2013. 288p. Amistad, $16.99 (9780061938627). Gr. 4–7.
Readers were first introduced to the Gaither sisters in One Crazy Summer (2010), which was named a Newbery Honor Book and a National Book Award Finalist as well as many other accolades. In this equally affecting follow-up, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are back in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, where their father has a new girlfriend, among many other changes. Set against the tumultuous, finely drawn backdrop of the late 1960s, this moving family story is vividly narrated by Delphine, who shares her worries in letters to her mother and gradually learns to lessen her control over her sisters.
Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War. By Helen Frost. 2013. 176p. Farrar/Frances Foster, $17.99 (9780374363871). Gr. 5–8.
Set during the War of 1812 near the present-day city of Fort Wayne, Indiana, this artful, affecting novel in verse tells a story of the friendship between Anikwa, a Miami Indian boy, and James, the son of a trader. Printz Honor Book author Frost (Keesha’s House, 2003) alternates between the voices of the two boys and poems about the salt that is so essential to the lives on both sides of the conflict. Explanatory notes and a glossary of Miami words are appended to this thought-provoking exploration of frontier America and the timelessness of friendship.
Stardines Swim High across the Sky: And Other Poems. By Jack Prelutsky. Illus. by Carin Berger. 2013. 40p. Greenwillow, $17.99 (9780062014641). 811. Gr. 1–5.
In Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant (2006), Prelutsky and Berger offered a gleefully clever collection of poems and images celebrating invented animals. This companion title, which introduces another cast of unforgettable animals, offers more irresistible invitations to poetry and wordplay. Written in a wide variety of poetic forms, the comedic selections are cleverly extended in mixed-media collage images filled with artifacts from scientific-specimen cases. An energetic choice for group sharing.
The Thing about Luck. By Cynthia Kadohata. Illus. by Julia Kuo. 2013. 288p. Atheneum, $16.99 (9781416918820). Gr. 4–8.
After her parents fly to Japan to care for relatives, Summer and her emotionally troubled younger brother, Jaz, accompany their grandparents through a season of work, cooking for the laborers of a migrant harvesting company. Filled with humor and the rich specifics of both Japanese American culture and the daily work of harvesters, this affectionate, subtle portrait of family dynamics transcends its familiar summer-of-transformation theme with a wholly engaging, memorable story.
Year of the Jungle. By Suzanne Collins. Illus. by James Proimos. 2013. 40p. Scholastic, $17.99 (9780545425162). K–Gr. 3.
Drawing from her own childhood experience, Collins tells a heartfelt, intimate story about war from the view of a soldier’s child. After first-grader Suzy’s father is deployed to Vietnam, she imagines the wild jungles that he must be seeing. His year of absence becomes even harder after news reports reveal grim truths about combat, and when her father finally returns, Suzy realizes that he’s been changed. Illustrated in a clean-lined, nearly cartoon style that reinforces a child’s unwavering viewpoint, this story shows the profound impact of war—and of a parent’s absence—on children.
The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos. By Deborah Heiligman. Illus. by LeUyen Pham. 2013. 48p. Roaring Brook, $17.99 (9781596433076). 510.92. K–Gr. 3.
Mathematician Paul Erdos is the subject of this inventive, entertaining picture-book biography that follows its eccentric subject from his childhood in Hungary through his adult life, flying around the world, staying with other mathematicians, and working collaboratively on challenging math problems. Throughout, math concepts are woven into the lively text (“Mama loved Paul to infinity. Paul loved Mama to ∞, too!”), and the colorful, energetic artwork, organized in a well-designed mix of spot scenes with full-page spreads, further expands the concepts with decorative elements. Lengthy notes from both the author and the illustrator add more understanding and appeal to this notable introduction to one of math’s historical stars.
Millions, Billions, and Trillions:Understanding Big Numbers. By David A. Adler. Illus. by Edward Miller. 2013. 32p. Holiday, $17.95 (9780823424030). 513. K–Gr. 3.
This lively picture book uses imaginative examples and cheerful, brightly colored digital images to introduce big numbers—and offer a tangible sense of the enormous quantities that they represent. For instance, to see one million grains of sugar (or close to it), readers are instructed to spill a quarter cup of sugar onto a piece of dark construction paper. The accessible text closes with additional notes about even larger numbers as well as how numerical terminology differs around the world. Both eye-opening and eye-catching.
The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest—and Most Surprising—Animals on Earth. By Steve Jenkins. Illus. by the author. 2013. 208p. Houghton, $24.99 (9780547557991). 599. Gr. 1–5.
Award-winning author Jenkins draws from his more than 30 books about the natural world in this exquisitely illustrated compendium of the animal kingdom. The thematic chapters, which touch on subjects such as family, senses, predators, defenses, extremes, and evolution, contain multiple spreads filled with captioned illustrations, including an infographic summarizes the section’s most important points. As always, Jenkins’ realistic, textured cut-paper collages reveal a remarkable attention to detail, including the scale of the creatures. The rich back matter, including an illustrated index of animals, as well as a section on “Making Books“ that explains Jenkins’ process—from ideas and research to illustrations and publication. An excellent choice for cross-curricular use.
Eruption!Volcanoes and the Science of Saving Lives. By Elizabeth Rusch. 2013. 80p. illus. Houghton, $18.99 (9780547503509). 363.34. Gr. 5–8.
One of this year’s many excellent entries in the acclaimed Scientists in the Field series, this fascinating title explores how modern scientists predict volcanic eruptions. As the scientists zero in on two sites—Mount Pinatubo, in the Philippines, and Mount Merapi, in Indonesia—readers learn how members of the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program and other specialists work to predict eruptions and manage evacuations when necessary. Dramatic photos from the field and infographs reinforce the clearly described scientific information and suspenseful stories of volcanologists at work.
Flight of the Honey Bee. By Raymond Huber. Illus. by Brian Lovelock. 2013. 32p. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763667603). 595.79. PreS–Gr. 2.
Huber, a science writer from New Zealand who has been a primary-grade teacher as well as a beekeeper, shows an obvious understanding of both honeybees and of what will interest young children in this attractive offering. Watercolor paintings accented with acrylic and colored-pencil touches offer distinctive bee’s-eye views of the world, whether showing aerial landscapes or close-ups of bee-to-wasp combat. One of the most informative—and beautiful— picture books about honeybees.
Locomotive. By Brian Floca. Illus. by the author. 2013. 64p. Atheneum, $17.99 (9781416994152). 385.0973. K–Gr. 3.
Chosen as Booklist’s Top of the List—Picture Book selection, this expertly designed title follows a family on a journey in 1869 from Omaha to Sacramento via the newly completed Transcontinental Railroad. Written in rhythmic, unrhymed stanzas, the text deftly combines facts with sensory details that reinforce the immediacy in the bold ink-and-watercolor images. Like Floca’s acclaimed Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 (2009), this is a standout informational title that will find a permanent place in the classroom and will easily excite a wide range of readers.
On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein. By Jennifer Berne. Illus. by Vladimir Radunsky. 2013. 56p. Chronicle, $17.99 (9780811872355). 530.092. Gr. 1–3.
Whimsical and illuminating, this beautifully illustrated picture-book biography accomplishes a daunting task: to introduce the life and work of Albert Einstein to young readers. From scenes of baby Albert through pages that introduce Einstein’s adult discoveries with atoms and his theories about the speed of light, the spreads tuck lucid explanations of concepts into a personal, humanizing portrait of the famous scientist. An author’s note gives readers further insight into Einstein’s personality and work as both a scientist and a humanitarian.
Things That Float and Things That Don’t. By David A. Adler. Illus. by Anna Raff. 2013. 32p. Holiday, $16.95 (9780823428625). 532. PreS–Gr. 2.
This attractive picture book provides a highly approachable introduction to the concept of density with clear, straightforward text that walks readers through well-selected density-related activities. Uncluttered, digitally touched illustrations, often featuring two children and their dog, illustrate each upbeat spread. It’s rare to find a picture book that uses simple hands-on examples so successfully, leading young children to a fuller understanding of a scientific concept, and this should find wide use as a perennial classroom resource.
Becoming Ben Franklin: How a Candle-Maker’s Son Helped Light the Flame of Liberty. By Russell Freedman. 2013. 96p. illus. Holiday, $24.95 (9780823423743). 973.3092. Gr. 6–9.
Freedman once again sets the standard for exemplary biographies for youth with this title, which was chosen as Booklist’s Top of the List—Youth Nonfiction selection. Here Freedman takes a fresh view of his subject by starting with Franklin’s youth as a 17-year-old runaway apprentice, eager to prove himself in his new city of Philadelphia. With his usual highly polished and meticulously researched detail, Freedman writes a wholly absorbing narrative that shows how Franklin grew into an astonishingly accomplished adult, weaving in lively anecdotes as well as quotes from Franklin’s autobiography and other writings along the way. Archival prints and paintings complete this outstanding title.
Boxers. By Gene Luen Yang. Illus. by the author. 2013. 336p. First Second, paper, $18.99 (9781596433595). 741.5. Gr. 7–11.
Saints. By Gene Luen Yang. Illus. by the author. 2013. 176p. First Second, paper, $15.99 (9781596436893). 741.5. Gr. 7–11.
The Michael L. Printz Award–winning author of American Born Chinese (2006) presents a two-volume epic, set at the end of the nineteenth century, that shows dual perspectives of the Boxer Rebellion. In Boxers, a young man, Little Bao, leads a bloody uprising against religious and cultural oppression, slaughtering perceived “foreign devils” along the way. In Saints, Four-Girl, an outsider who embraces Christianity, comes into bloody conflict with the Boxers. Named Booklist’s Top of the List—Youth Fiction choice, Yang’s historical-fiction diptych demonstrates the extraordinary narrative power of graphic novels and raises essential questions about tolerance, activism, and human rights.
Brave Girl:Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909. By Michelle Markel. Illus. by Melissa Sweet. 2013. 32p. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray, $17.99 (9780061804427). 331.892. K–Gr. 3.
Sweet, a Robert F. Sibert Medal winner for Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade (2011), contributes striking, original images in this picture-book biography of Clara Lemlich, a young immigrant from eastern Europe who fought for garment workers’ rights at the turn of the twentieth century. With extraordinary texture, dramatic perspectives, and historical detail, Sweet’s vibrant collage artwork enlivens Markel’s informative, polished text. A detailed note about the garment industry and a selected bibliography conclude this spirited title.
Courage Has No Color:The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America’s First Black Paratroopers. By Tanya Lee Stone. 2013. 160p. illus. Candlewick, $24.99 (9780763651176); e-book, $17.99 (9781469262581). 940.5403. Gr. 5–9.
The Triple Nickles (members of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion) were known, were America’s first black paratrooper unit. This riveting introduction traces the paratroopers’ story, from training, through their long wait for orders to join the fighting overseas, and finally to their assignments: fighting fires in remote areas of western states. Written with vivid clarity and detail, this essential title is further enlivened by well-chosen quotes, period photographs and illustrations, and a foreword from celebrated artist and writer Ashley Bryan, an African American veteran of WWII.
Diego Rivera: An Artist for the People. By Susan Goldman Rubin. 2013. 56p. illus. Abrams, $21.95 (9780810984110). 759.972. Gr. 6–10.
With engaging prose that is beautifully illustrated with Rivera’s paintings and murals, this spacious volume introduces the great Mexican artist to young people. Accompanied by crisp color reproductions of both his bright, minutely detailed murals and archival photos of the artist at work, the graceful narrative discusses how Diego constructed his art and used pre-Columbian images to celebrate Mexico’s history and Indian heritage: “The murals would be for the people in his country and not just a few rich collectors.” The extensive back matter includes meticulous source notes, a long historical note about how Mexico is referenced in Rivera’s art as well as Rivera’s ongoing artistic influence, and a list of where to view the artist’s original work.
Emancipation Proclamation:Lincoln and the Dawn of Liberty. By Tonya Bolden. 2013. 128p. illus. Abrams, $24.95 (9781419703904). 973.714. Gr. 6–10.
Taking on a particularly complex and often oversimplified subject, accomplished author Bolden presents a thorough, lucid introduction to the Emancipation Proclamation that offers multiple perspectives. Beautifully reproduced on thick, glossy pages, the illustrations include nineteenth-century photos, paintings, prints, maps, and documents, and the high-quality printing often gives even black-and-white images tinges of color and a greater sense of depth. Written in soaring language and supported by rigorous research, this is a valuable, welcome resource.
Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans during World War II. By Martin W. Sandler. 2013. 176p. illus. Bloomsbury, $22.99 (9780802722775). 940.53. Gr. 6–12.
In this thoroughly researched overview of Japanese internment during WWII, veteran nonfiction author Sandler writes with authority and sensitivity about a still frequently misunderstood chapter in U.S. history. Also included in this revealing and balanced volume are accounts of Japanese Americans who fought for their country. Heavily illustrated with archival images, this is an important addition to WWII resources for youth.
Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song. By Andrea Davis Pinkney. Illus. by Brian Pinkney. 2013. 40p. Little, Brown, $17.99 (9780316070133). 323.092. Gr. 2–4.
Award-winning spouses Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney combine talents again in this stirring account of how the friendship between Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahalia Jackson helped move the civil rights movement forward. Written in rhythmic, call-and-response language and illustrated with swooping, evocative images, the story, culminating in King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington, offers a strong, resonant view of both individuals and of one of the most powerful—and pivotal—moments in U.S. history.
Master George’s People: George Washington, His Slaves, and His Revolutionary Transformation. By Marfe Ferguson Delano. 2013. 64p. illus. National Geographic, $18.95 (9781426307591). 973.4. Gr. 5–8.
George Washington was only 11 years old when he inherited Ferry Farm and its 10 slaves. As an adult, he bought many more individuals, but during the Revolutionary War, Washington became increasingly troubled about the institution of slavery and his participation in it. In his will, he made provisions for his own slaves to be freed. This densely detailed, heavily illustrated volume features profiles of individual slaves and provides an excellent starting point for thoughtful discussion and research about U.S. history, the first president, the institution of slavery, and the social, economic, political, and personal factors that made it difficult for Washington to end the practice during his lifetime.
Parrots over Puerto Rico. By Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore. Illus. by Susan L. Roth. 2013. 48p. Lee & Low, $19.95 (9781620140048). 597. Gr. 2–5.
Brilliantly hued, vertically oriented collage artwork illustrates this unusual, creative picture book that tells the history of Puerto Rico through the story of the island’s indigenous parrots. After flourishing for millennia, the birds’ numbers dwindled to a mere 24 until efforts revived the population, and today they are flourishing. A beautiful, uplifting account of Puerto Rican history and culture and of the importance of animal conservation.
When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders. By J. Patrick Lewis. Illus. by Jim Burke and others. 2013. 44p. Chronicle, $16.99 (9781452101194). 811. Gr. 4–7.
Lewis, a former U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate, gives voice to 17 civil rights leaders from around the world in this stirring collection of verse. Well-known activists, such as Mohandas Gandhi and Coretta Scott King, mix with less familiar heroes, such as Dennis James Banks and Sylvia Mendez, and each selection is as unique in poetic form and tone as the individuals themselves. Similarly diverse portraits contributed by accomplished illustrators add further dimension to each poem. An unusual introduction to groundbreaking activists and to the profound impact of individuals standing together.
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