Category Archives: Reviews
It’s been warm in NYC lately – in the 80s the past couple days! – so we’re thinking forward to cooler autumn nights and cozying up with some atmospheric, moody, sweeping stories. In particular, this is when I love reading romantic stories and we’ve got some gorgeous ones for you:
FATEFUL by Claudia Gray: Known for her Evernight series, Claudia Gray strikes new ground with this sweeping paranormal romance that takes place on the RMS Titanic’s maiden – and only – voyage (check out the deliciously creepy book trailer).
COLD KISS by Amy Garvey: When Wren’s boyfriend dies unexpectedly, she realizes she can bring him back from the dead…but just because she can doesn’t mean she should (Kirkus called it “a provocative romance” and Publishers Weekly said COLD KISS was “a delicate portrayal of love and loss”).
Here’s hoping for cooler days soon in NYC and, for those of you enjoying cooler climates, curl up with one of these today!
A gorgeous book illustrated throughout by Kei Acedera, we are so excited to share LIESL & PO with you! Lauren Oliver proves she can right it all: young adult, dystopian, and now middle-grade.
We have materials to help you read LIESL & PO with the kids in your classrooms and libraries. Check out the website: download the discussion guide, ask Lauren a question, and hear Lauren talk about creating the story.
The reviews are lovely:
“With her third book, Lauren Oliver (Before I Fall; Delirium) creates another highly original world, this one for middle-grade readers. Oliver introduces orphans Liesl and Will, a touch of magic, some delectable coincidences, and friendship that stretches from the Living Side to the Other Side.” ~ Shelf Awareness
“Classic fairy tale elements weave throughout this spirited, old-fashioned adventure. Invigorating and hopeful, this novel testifies to the power of friendship and generosity to conquer greed and depression.” ~ Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A nice addition to libraries looking to add to their middle grade fantasy collections. It could also be a good read aloud, since I think it would have appeal to both genders – it doesn’t lean too ‘girl read’ or ‘guy read’.” ~ GreenBeanTeanQueen
Lastly, check out the gorgeous book trailer (and even download the lyrics to the accompanying song):
The day has come! Shel Silverstein’s newest poetry collection, EVERY THING ON IT, is on sale today!
You can get a peek at the book by using our Browse Inside feature, and check out the downloadable activities. The New York Times also wrote a lovely piece about Shel Silverstein as an unexpected “authority on education.” And don’t forget to check out Shel’s poems on NPR’s Morning Edition (seriously, you haven’t lived until you hear Shel’s editor Toni Markiet read “Italian Food” out loud!).
The reviews are coming in and they positively glow about EVERY THING ON IT:
“This posthumous collection of Silverstein’s poems and illustrations is not only familiar in design, but chockfull of the whimsical humor, eccentric characters, childhood fantasies, and iconoclastic glee that his many fans adore.” ~ Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Like the boy holding the delightfully absurd hot dog with everything piled upon it, this collection offers a Silverstein smorgasbord that won’t linger on the library shelves.” ~ School Library Journal (starred review)
“Adults who grew up with Uncle Shelby will find themselves wiping their eyes by the time they get to the end of this collection; children new to the master will find themselves hooked.” ~ Kirkus Reviews
It’s a historic day, and we’re so excited to share it with you, readers. And if you’d like to share memories and/or favorite poems by Shel Silverstein in the comments, please feel free – we’d love to hear it!
WARNING: Be prepared to have this song in your head all day! Especially after using it in a storytime!
See what librarians and teachers are saying about PETE THE CAT: ROCKING IN MY SCHOOL SHOES by Eric Litwin and James Dean:
“The text invites students to sing along with Pete as he rocks in his new school shoes. It also invites them to jump in with the place in the school where Pete is doing whatever it is he is doing. A perfect book for young children at the beginning of the school year. So many possibilities!” ~ A Year of Reading
“This book is a perfect fit for preschoolers through early elementary, and potentially as fun for the reader as the listener (I suggest belting out Pete’s song right along with him in your jazziest voice!). It might be a comfort to kids who are experiencing first-day jitters, as Pete’s sense of calm and cool is a tad infectious. And just like this cat, school IS cool, after all! My grade for Pete, the coolest cat around? A+.” ~ Book Talk (King County Library System)
“PETE THE CAT: ROCKING IN MY SCHOOL SHOES is the perfect back-to-school story for preschoolers through first graders. You better believe you’ll hear enthusiastic singing and clapping coming from my school library.” ~ Watch. Connect. Read (Mr. Schu)
PETE THE CAT: ROCKING IN MY SCHOOL SHOES
by Eric Litwin and James Dean
Check out the website!
This video is stunning – watch how Kadir Nelson created the breathtaking art for his upcoming book HEART AND SOUL. It’s particularly moving when he talks about telling not just an African-American story; he’s telling an American story…from an African-American perspective.
If you’re able, watch this video in full-screen – you won’t regret it:
“As in WE ARE THE SHIP, Nelson knits together the nation’s proudest moments with its most shameful, taking on the whole of African-American history. He handles this vast subject with easy grace. [Nelson's] jaw-dropping portraits radiate determination and strength. A tremendous achievement.” ~ Publishers Weekly (starred review)
With villain names like Professor Von Evil and the Flaming Eyeball, how can you not be dying to read Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon’s debut picture book THE ASTONISHING SECRET OF AWESOME MAN, illustrated by Jake Parker? With short text and plenty of derring-do action (take a peek inside), this picture book will be a favorite of kids who love comics, as well as kids in your storytime programs.
In its starred review, School Library Journal said “the depiction of a showdown between Awesome Man and his nemesis-the Flaming Eyeball-is priceless. Readers may notice that there’s a moral peeking out from Awesome Man’s cape, but they’ll still grab this story in their ‘ginormous Awesome Power Grip’ and not let go.”
From reading your Pulitzer Prize-winning adult novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, fans probably know you have a long-term relationship with superhero comics. Can you give us a taste of your own childhood introduction to them and how that might have inspired this story of Awesome Man?
Well, of course I remember seeing Batman and the first animated Spider-Man show on television when I was very small… but my first true plunge into the world of superheroes came through the comic books that my father began to bring home for me, as soon as I could read. He had grown up reading them himself, and felt they were an important part of a kid’s education.
You clearly revel in language and names — Professor Von Evil, Moskowitz the Awesome Dog, positrons, and…pooped (and what kid doesn’t like saying “pooped!”). As an adult author known for reveling in words and language, how did you manage to balance that with the need to keep things relatively simple for a picture book audience?
I was really thinking about the parents here–how much it meant to me, when I was reading a book aloud to my children for the 33832nd time, if there was a little verve or snap to the language. Probably the all time champ, in that regard–to me, at least–is William Steig. Nobody used English, in kids’ books, the way he did.
You have children of your own — were they helpful in the creation of this book?
I wrote this book for my younger son (I have two, and two daughters), Abe. He was the direct inspiration, in every way, for the main character of AWESOME MAN.
Are you a reader of children’s books yourself and if so, what are some of your favorites?
One of the greatest, and most lasting, pleasures of having children, for me, has been the excuse and the opportunity that bedtime reading has given me to revisit, and re-relish (usually), so many of the books I loved as a kid, from The Hobbit to The Secret Garden to From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.
Are there any plans for more adventures of Awesome Man or another book for children (even perhaps a sequel to your middle grade fantasy Summerland)?
Yes, the next book I write, when I am done with the novel I’m finishing, will be for the same readership as Summerland.Not a sequel, though.
Thanks so much to Michael and Monica for the interview!
It’s been an eventful couple of days: earthquakes! hurricanes! But even Mother Nature can’t put a stop to Book Birthdays! Today is the birthday for WILDWOOD by Colin Meloy (of Decemberists’ fame) and illustrated by his wife, Carson Ellis. We’re so thrilled that it’s out there for everyone to read now!
Check out the reviews:
“Meloy has an immediately recognizable verbal style and creates a fully realized fantasy world…. Ellis’s illustrations perfectly capture the original world and contribute to the feel of an instant timeless classic.” ~ School Library Journal (starred review)
“A satisfying blend of fantasy, adventure story, eco-fable and political satire with broad appeal; especially recommended for preteen boys.” ~ Kirkus
Get to know Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis:
And take a look at the book trailer to whet your appetite:
Happy publication day to WILDWOOD!
For better or for worse, as parents, librarians, and teachers, we rely a lot on series to get reluctant readers to keep reading. Heck, even very strong readers love the predictability and familiarity they have with characters and storylines they’ve encountered before. To that end, there are some #2 books coming out in new series this fall and they just might be the perfect recommendation for the kids in your library or classroom (or home):
THE FAMILIARS #2: SECRETS OF THE CROWN by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson
THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING EVERYTHING by Ben H. Winters
- In its starred review, Publishers Weekly called THE SECRET LIFE OF MS. FINKLEMAN, “funny, fast-paced, and highly original.”
MO WREN, LOST AND FOUND by Tricia Springstubb
THE MAGNIFICENT 12: THE TRAP by Michael Grant
- Receiving two starred reviews, Kirkus said that THE MAGNIFICENT 12: THE CALL was “a lighter-than-usual fantasy action-adventure that is sure to win many fans and fly off the shelves.” And don’t forget to check out the outstanding website that includes a section of educators!
What other series are your kids excited about?
We hope you have all had a chance to read KICK, the outstanding YA novel co-written by debut teen author Ross Workman and New York Times bestselling author Walter Dean Myers.
When Ross Workman, then 13, emailed his favorite author, he hardly knew that he would have the opportunity to write a story collaboratively with him, in alternating chapters. What’s so wonderful about the story of these two authors is that it has broadened the conversation about the writing process, not to mention that it’s inspiring for teens considering writing to their favorite author.
Below, Ross Workman poses 5 questions about their writing process to Walter Dean Myers:
1. We did a lot of thinking about the story before we even started writing. You had all these techniques you’d developed to help you figure out your characters and plot—using photographs of the characters to help you think of them as real people and keep them consistent, doing character timelines, and creating a detailed outline. How did you come up with these? Did you ever try to write without them? How did that turn out?
Ross, I started writing without the outlines and without time-lines, etc. My understanding of literature was that the writers were all geniuses and the words just flowed from their pens or typewriters. I kept getting stuck in the middle of a manuscript. Developing the prewriting techniques help me to understand if I really have a book in mind or just the germ of an idea. Now, having said that, I still occasionally jump into a book too quickly. When I do, there’s usually a price to pay in starting over or replotting.
2. At times, I got discouraged, especially when I was worried that my writing wouldn’t be good enough. Did you ever get discouraged when you were writing or revising KICK? Did you ever get discouraged while working on another project? What do you do when you get stuck?
I enjoyed working on the book so much that I didn’t get discouraged. In fact, I’m rarely discouraged. If I do get stuck, I simply revisit my outline to see what I’ve overlooked.
3. Was it easier to edit my chapters or your chapters?
It was easier to edit your chapters because I can’t always see what mine are missing. My wife reads my chapters and reminded me to put in descriptions. Then you would point out my inconsistencies and, finally, our editor Phoebe made suggestions. I get the core feelings right most of the time but I often fall down when it comes to details.
4. You introduced me to the poem “The Second Coming” by W.B. Yeats. What made you think of that poem and its relevance to KICK?
As I understood the character you created, he seemed always eager to do the right thing. He wanted to help his friend, Christy, when she was troubled. He was very sympathetic and concerned with Dolores, who worked for McNamara. He was even hoping that Mr. McNamara wouldn’t get into too much trouble. I liked Kevin’s character and his willingness to get involved. In “The Second Coming” Yeats describes the end of the world, made easy by the lack of conviction of good people:
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity
I believe that the end of the world as we know it can only come about if “the best” lack the conviction to change it. Kevin, in my mind, has that conviction.
5. What was different about working with a collaborator? Did my age make a difference – besides having to stay up later for our phone calls? (You are a very early riser, and I go to bed late and get up late–at least on the weekends!)
You understood what we were trying to do and stayed on task, which made the whole project easier. But I had to consider what you were doing and how you saw the story so as not to invade your space. Your age did make a difference because you matured over the period in which we worked on the book. Your writing was considerably better during the last rewrites.
And be sure to check out these links for more information:
- Download the teaching guide to use in your classrooms and libraries.
- Watch a video of the authors.
- Read an interview with the authors over at Cynsations
- Edge Book Reviews says “Teens will enjoy a complex story in this intelligent novel with themes of courage, accountability, and tenacity.”
- One of Monica Edinger‘s students at Dalton submitted a review!
- Kirkus interviewed Walter and Ross. And check out the interview at SLJ!
THE BERLIN BOXING CLUB, by award-winning author Robert Sharenow (My Mother the Cheerleader), has been given THREE STARRED REVIEWS! Here is what everyone is raving about:
Robert Sharenow’s editor, the fabulous Kristin Rens, recently shared with us what it is about the story and Robert’s writing that drew her to the story when she first read it:
It’s hard to talk about just one thing that struck me about BERLIN BOXING CLUB, because when I read the first draft I was struck by something new on almost every page: there’s Rob’s writing, which is eloquent and moving; there’s the way he beautifully marries the political and social upheaval happening around Karl with the life-altering events that take place in his own family; and there’s Karl’s quest to find his own unique talents through boxing and art—a quest to which any teen can relate. Most of all, though, I was struck by the fact that Rob was writing about this place and time from a point of view that I hadn’t seen before: that of a teen boy whose heritage is Jewish, but because his parents haven’t raised him in the Jewish faith, he doesn’t consider himself Jewish. In fact, at the beginning of the story he identifies more with boys in the Hitler Youth than he does with his Jewish classmates. And his struggle to understand why he’s being bullied for a faith that he doesn’t really embrace as his own is absolutely heartrending.
Pick up THE BERLIN BOXING CLUB to see what the buzz is all about! And check out the following links for more info:
- Robert Sharenow’s website, which includes a discussion guide, tips for writing historical fiction, and more.
- Ms. Yingling Reads’ review
- A wonderful review from Huntington News
- THE BERLIN BOXING CLUB is a Junior Library Guild pick!