Thursday, December 31, 2009

Perfect Shot Debbie Rigaud

Perfect Shot by Debbie Rigaud

I love when a book gives exactly what it promises with good writing and no unnecessary tricks like out of the blue Vampires. Perfect Shot was such a joy to read. If I had known I was going to enjoy it has much as I did, I would've read it sooner.

15 yr old London is a volleyball star. She's working part time at an art store to raise money for volleyball summer camp. A guy (Brent) catches London's attention at the art store. She soons finds herself accidentally entering a modeling competition to catch Brent's attention, a photography intern.

London doesn't feel like she fits in with the other girls. Rigaud does a great job of developing and creating a very likable character in London. Yes, she's tall and beautiful but she's still unsure because of all the name calling in middle school. So its easy why London would feel insecure around the other contestants. Plus, London is more sporty than fashion. It's her best friend Pam that has the eye for fashion.

London's biggest competition is an old frenemy, Kelly. I loved the contest. Think, Next Top Model but online with believable challenges. The Perfect Shot was a whole lot of fun to read. I laughed out loud many times.

Perfect Shot is a part of Simon & Schuster's Romantic Comedy series. It's the first one that features Black characters. It's was so nice to read a light, fun and well written YA book with characters of color. Ages 11 up. Only $6.99

While reading Perfect Shot, I thought of Love at First Click by Elizabeth Chandler. Another great Sports & Boys (S&B) chick lit read.

There's also The Ex Games (snowboarding) by Jennifer Echols

Sports & Boys chick lit is a beautiful thing.

Read the first chapter and second chapter of Perfect Shot

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Ever Breath Julianna Baggott

The Ever Breath by Julianna Baggott

This is Baggott's second middle grade fantasy novel this year. The first one was The Prince of Fenway Park. It was my Cybils nod for MG fantasy category. I loved it, so much so that when I heard the author had another book coming out, the only question was when I would read it and the sooner the better.

I had high hopes for The Ever Breath, I was not dissappointed. Its a wonderful adventure story. Truman Cragmeal and his twin sister, Camille are going to meet their grandmother, Swelda for the first time. Their mother is driving them to Swelda's house. They thought the house had a great view of a golf course but its actually on the seventeenth hole. When house is located on a golf course, something strange is going on.

One of the things I loved about this tale, it got to the adventure quickly. Though first author establishes the personalities (read the first chapter) of Truman and Camille. They are both very likeable making it hard not to want to follow them on an adventure.

Swelda sit the twins down for a tasting tale, a family tradition. She telling them, the Cragmeal history, where their dad is, and what need to do to help save two worlds.

The Fixed World is the world they live in, The Breath World is other one. A stone called the Ever Breath is the balance between the two worlds and it was stolen. Without the Ever Breath there will be no more imagination and dreaming in the Fixed World. The Breath World would be overcome with too much magic. Evil magical beast would rise up and take over. Swelda gives Truman and Camille, each a family globe. The globes allow them to see the past, present or future in the Breath World.

In the Breath World the chapters alternate between the twins. A mouse named Binderbee Biggby gets a chapter all to himself. Baggott quickly establishes the politics and the animals of The Breath World, making it easy for readers to follow.

The Office of Official Affairs controls everything, with an Us vs Them mentality. Mice have always been looked downed on. Now, mice have been given a chance to prove themselves as spies. When Biggby reads an intercepted letter he begins to questions who is Us and who is them.

Biggby eventually meets up with the twins, with an Ogre who is also ready to help. The Twins with their small group of friends must go into the Dark heart of the Breath World, to retrieve the Ever Breath and save their dad.

The Ever Breath is a wonderful adventure story with scary cringe worthy moments. Baggott allows the reader to see the world she's created. For the most part its no more than six pages per chapter making it a great choice for young fantasy fans. 8up

Read the first chapter

Monday, December 28, 2009

Henry Aaron's Dream Matt Tavares

Henry Aaron's Dream by Matt Tavares
Before Hank Aaron was in the Baseball Hall of Fame, he was Henry Aaron. Tavares has written a wonderful straight forward biography of Aaron's early years.

Born in Mobile Alabama during segregation in the 1940's, Henry Aaron still dreamed of playing baseball. When he was thirteen, Jackie Robinson with the first African American in the major leagues.

I loved the overlap of Henry Aaron's time in the Negro Leagues with the Indianapolis Clowns to the Majors. Tavares also points out other Black ballplayers who got their start in the Negro Leagues like Larry Doby, Monte Irvin and Jackie Robinson

A big part of baseball is its history, that includes the Negro Leagues. The author doesn't gloss over Henry Aaron's years with the Indianapolis Clowns.

In 1953, Henry Aaron's Class A team won the pennant. There was a party at a restaurant in Savannah, GA. The three Black players, including Henry Aaron the MVP were not allowed. I believe for many young readers (baseball fans or not), watching three Black men playing cards in the kitchen may put segregation into perspective.

The illustrations are great. One of my favorites is the Colored section entrance to an exhibition game in Mobile, between Braves (Aaron's team) and the Dodgers. Everyone in dressed up, looking so happy, proud, waving their tickets and ready to go watch one of their own

The biography ends with Henry Aaron making it into the Majors. In the authors note, Travares talks about Henry Aaron becoming home run leader. Also the impact many of first Black ballplayers in MLB had on the Civil Rights Movement. Ages 5up Scheduled release date Jan 12.

While you wait check out these other great nonfiction baseball books

Satchel Paige by Lesa Cline-ransome

Sunday, December 27, 2009

8th Grade Superzero Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Eighth-Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday- Perkovich.
In the author bio we learn that Rhuday-Perkovich studied with Paula Danziger and Madeleine L'Engle. I believe this fact shows itself early on in this well layered debut novel.

After an incident on the first day of 8th grade, Reggie is called Pukey. Reggie is doing is best to lay low. His best friends are Ruthie a young revolutionary and Joe C, an artist.

Reggie and Ruthie are active members of their church's youth group. The group is doing a project at a local homeless shelter. Reggie's mom signed him up to be a Big Buddy at school.

"Eighth graders can be paired up with kindergarten kids as "Big Buddies," and Ruthie's parents and my parents fell over themselves signing us up to be positive role models. Joe C. doesn't have to do the activity thing the way we do. Whenever I say that to my mom, she just says, "White folks have that luxury"

Reggie schools is holding an election for President. Tired of the popular kids always winning, and with a little confidence from his Dora the Explorer shoes* Reggie finds himself in the race. One of Reggie's biggest tormentors is Donavan, a former friend, now campaign manager of the very popular Justin.

All the stories come together in the end. I really enjoyed how the story moved. The author does an excellent job of handling several things at once. Many young readers will be able to relate to Reggie's father being out of work. When the novel works Pops is searching for a new job.

I do think Rhuday- Perkovich towed the too much lesson line towards the end. Though that did not keep me from loving this book. The author isn't giving more of the same. This is new.

There aren't enough middle grade novels with a main character of color that's male. I love Reggie for many reason. One of the biggest is that he's Jamaican. The Rhuday- Perkovich doesn't make this an issue of it nor does she ignore it. Reggie simply is who he is. His parents are proud Jamaican's, especially Pops.

Pops Ranking -

"Trinidad is above Bardados and Guyana in Pop's personal Caribbean Country Rankings, but nowhere near Jamaica, "the crown jewel." Don't get him started on Haiti."

Rhuday-Perkovich took time to fully develop Reggie and his friends. The three get along very well though they do have fights and misunderstandings, making it that much more believable.

I hope this isn't the last time we see Reggie and his friends. Ages 10 up.

Scheduled released date Jan. 1.

A starred PW review

* I am not saying anything else about an 8th grade boy wearing Dora the Explorer sneakers, or there power. Oops I've send too much. Go buy the book.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

My Best of 09, A Preview of the Preview,+ An Overdue Apology

At first I wasn't going to do any Best of List but now I will. I am waiting until the end of December, early January to post. Books published in December deserve a chance to get on end of the year list. I will do a few categories.

I will also be doing a coming soon list. I had planned to go up to March maybe April, though I am already into August. I am stopping there. I got into a new month every time I found a new book by an author or illustrator of Color.

A Place Where Hurricanes Happen by Renee Watson Illus by Shadra Strickland doesn't come out until June. Look how beautiful it is, I had to include it.

This will be Watson's first picture book. In 2009 Strickland became the first female illustrator to win the John Steptoe Award for new talent.

This are some great books coming out.

Sharon Flake has a new one at the end of February -
You Don't Even Know Me: Stories and Poems About Boys Flake is on my a read it as soon as it comes out list.

As is Melina Marchetta. Finnikin of the Rock comes out in early February

Zetta Elliott's YA novel A Wish After Midnight (loved it) which was originally self published is being released in February by Amazon Encore. I am very excited about this re-release - Elliott has written a great YA book that many people have embraced. Check out a few reviews.

This year author Rita Williams-Garcia was a National Book Award finalist for her YA novel, Jumped. (loved it) Check out her great guest post at Cynsations. Williams-Garcia has a middle grade novel coming out in January. One Crazy Summer . (loved it)

Monica Brown as a new picture book Chavela and the Magic Bubble that comes out in May.

I believe this will be Brown's first non bilingual picture book. Earlier in the year I read, reviewed and loved Brown's Pele, King of Soccer/Pele, El rey del futbol. The author was kind enough to answer a few questions but I did not post the interview.

When I first saw Chavela and the Magic Bubble, after my initial thought of I owe Monica Brown an apology (I really am sorry), I thought beautiful cover and Brown must have an illustrator fairy. She has several picture books all illustrated by different artist. Their styles always match the text. I have never once looked at one of Monica Brown's books and thought if only it was illustrated by someone else.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pledge, Spread The Word, There's Still Time

Tu Publishing is a new small independent mutlicutural SFF press for Children and Young Adults. Stacy Whitman is the Editorial Director and founder.

Fantasy has been big in children's literature for years, yet there is still a lack of diversity. Every child deserves the chance to see themselves as the hero, the defender, the traveller, the wizard, or the one who holds the magic.

Tu Publishing wants to succeed were the larger publishers have failed . In order to get off the ground Tu Publishing is running a KickStarter campaign. Their goal is $10,000 by Monday Nov. 14. 1 Am Est.

I am late with this post, so they're very close to meeting the goal. So please go over and get Tu Publishing that much closer, you can pledge as little as a $1.00. Pledge Now

And of course its free to click off to see what Tu Publishing has to offer.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

An Interview with Barrie Summy + An Updated Giveaway

Updated Giveaway Sat. Nov 12.
Barrie is willing to giveaway one more autographed and personalized copy of I So Don't Do Mysteries. This giveaway will be open to all who leave a comment between now and Monday Nov 14. If know a young reader who that would enjoy this gift delurk and enter. Leave their first name and age. Plus your email. The winner will be announced on Tuesday.

Barrie Summy is the author of two fun tween mysteries published by Delacorte Press, A Random House imprint. I So Don't Do Mysteries and as of this week I So Don't Do Spooky.

My review. I am a big mystery fan and I am loving this new series. So, I happy to be able to ask the author a few questions.

Hello Barrie. Congratulations, on the Cyblis nomination for your first book and the release of your second book I So Don't Do spooky.

Thank you and thank you! ( Clap people, can't you see Barrie is waving)

Barrie, can you tell us a little about yourself?

In a nutshell--married, four kids, one dog, two veiled chameleons, 91 chameleon eggs (and I'm not kidding!), three college degrees (French, Canadian Lit, Speech Pathology), too many books to count, an addiction to licorice (red and black). p.s. The three college degrees are not a sign of any kind of brilliance. Just a lack of direction.;)

Say that in French. Is there such a thing as unveiled chameleons? Have you sold any of your chameleon eggs to the pet store yet?

Ha! to questions 1 and 2 We'll be selling one-month old veileds to the pet store. I'm sure Child #2 will use his chameleon money to buy his mother an uber expensive birthday gift!

I deserved that first, Ha, I was trying to be funny. But, the second one is uncalled for, since I know nothing about chameleons. Barrie, be my google search tell me three things about chameleons?

I'll try to limit myself to three things! We've become such aficiandos around here. Veiled chameleons are Old World chameleons. Their eyes move independently. They rock back and forth slowly like a leaf in the wind when stalking prey (like a cricket). Their sticky tongue can be 1 1/2 times as long as their body. They're extremely cute. Ooops. Went over three things!

How long did it take to write and sell your first book?

I think about eight or nine years. Which somehow sounds a lot longer than it felt! I guess because I'd take it seriously for a while, then back off depending on what else was going on in life, then jump back into writing. But eight or nine years? I never thought it would take that long!

Your first book has been out over a year now. What have you learned about the publishing industry in that time?

It's more of a juggling act than I expected. There's writing enough each day to keep up with deadlines. Then there's promotion (school visits, author panels, etc.). Then there's coming up with ideas for the next book. Busy, but fun.

When did you and your protagonist, Sherry Holmes Baldwin first get acquainted?

Right after Simon and Schuster rejected the mystery for Nancy Drew! I moped around for a few days, then decided they were probably right; it wasn't the right case for Nancy. I started looking for a new sleuth. And Sherry stepped up to the plate!

If Nancy Drew was a real person I think (or hope) she would say, "I am tired. I don't want any new cases."

Can you tell us a little about the series?

At this point, the series involves four books: I So Don't Do Mysteries (Dec. 2008), I So Don't Do Spooky (Dec. 2009), I So Don't Do Makeup (May 2010) and I So Don't Do Famous (May 2011).

The core characters remain the same for each book, such as Sherry and her ghost mother. Some other repeat characters are Junie, Sherry's BFF; Josh, Sherry's boyfriend; Amber, Junie's cousin; The Ruler, Sherry's stepmother; and Sherry's grandfather who has been reincarnated as a wren.

Then, there are brand new characters who just show up for one mystery. For example, in I So Don't Do Spooky, there's a 13-year-old psychic, a ghost hunter, and some intense robotics' students.

Barrie, you're leaving out all the good stuff. Like how Sherry's ghost mom and wren grandfather are members of the Academy of Spirits. In I So Don't Do Spooky with Sherry's help they must figure out who's stalking Sherry's Stepmother, the Ruler. Sherry's mom is also competing in the ghostlympics.

The robotics students were very intense with the right amount of creepy.

So the 13 yr old psychic and the ghost hunter, won't be back. If that's what your saying, I am kind of sad right now.

It makes me kind of sad too. Hmmm....I wonder if there's a way to bring back the 13-year-old psychic in I So Don't Do Famous??? OR maybe she could have her own series!

Yes, please bring the psychic back. And of course I am pleading, not for myself but for the children.

Each book has a character named after one of my kids.

Very cool. Did your kids try to have a say in the personalities of their character namesakes.

Well, no, not really. :) In fact, Child #3 (or at least his namesake) is a suspect in I So Don't Do Makeup. He's very happy about it, though, because his character is... muscular!

Authors seem to put girls in boxes. Forcing young girls to choose. Girls who like make-up, clothes and accessorizing aren't suppose to solve mysteries. With Sherry, girls don't have to choose, she's a fashion conscious sleuth.

Was this character balance intentional?

Yes. I wanted Sherry to pretty much be the girl next door. She doesn't have it all together yet; she shares a lot of the same interests with real tweens; she deals with typical tween problems (family, girlfriend, boy issues). But, in addition to all this, she solves mysteries.

I think many girls will be able to laugh and relate to Sherry. As she deals with many things including new stepmom, her first boyfriend and the possibility of double dating. And its also a great mystery. (Bonus)

There were moments when I cringed for Sherry and stepmom's safety as I wondered who the stalker was.

Barrie, thank you for keeping this novel in the now and not having any 80's or 90's references.

I think keeping it very contemporary worked well for Sherry and her friends. Glad it worked or you too!

A few chapters into I So Don't Do Spooky I noticed how much more you were giving readers. The second book was stronger than the first.

Barrie, was it easier to write the first or second book ? How would you compare the two? What can we expect in I So Don't do Make-Up?

Hands down, writing I So Don't Do Spooky was easier and more fun. It was like getting together with old friends. And because Sherry grows up a little in each book, I was curious to see how she'd handle things. Plus, I'd already done a book with Editor Wendy, so I knew what to expect there. Same thing with I So Don't Do Makeup. I really enjoyed writing it. And, without giving too much away, the darkest moment in Makeup involves....a dumpster!

Don't worry, Barrie you didn't give too much (anything) away. What if I said I was Oprah could I get more out of you then dumpster?

Uh, if you were Oprah, you could probably get me to give it all away. Including my first born!

Who are some of your favorite mystery authors?

L.R. Wright (especially The Suspect), Rex Stout, Martha Grimes, Sue Grafton, Erle Stanley Gardner, Patricia Cornwell, Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

What are a few of your favorite books this year?

The London Eye by Siobhan Dowd, Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman, i know it's over by C.K. Kelly Martin, The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron

Barrie, thanks for answering these questions in your... Well I don't know where you are but still thank you. I wish you much success with the Sherry Holmes Baldwin, series. I hopes its at least half as big as I think it should be.

Thank you! It was a pleasure visiting you!

Don't leave yet. There's still the Holiday Giveaway. Barrie is giving away one signed copy of I So Don't Do Mysteries, to get a young reader started on the series. The first person to leave a comment with the age of the reader and their name gets the book. Barrie will autograph and personalized the book and send it directly to the recipient. (U.S. only)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I So Don't Do Spooky Barrie Summy (Part I)

I So Don't Do Spooky by Barrie Summy
This is the second book, in the I So Don't series. I really enjoyed I So Don't Do Mysteries. my review. After reading I So Don't Do Spooky, my like of this series is quickly turning into love.

13 yr old Sherry Holmes Baldwin mother is ghost. Sherry's mom was a cop killed in the line duty. Now she's a member of the Academy of Spirits, an organization that teaches ghost to protect the living. Sherry helps her mother solve cases. She can't see her mother but can speak to her. Sherry grandfather who has been reincarnated as a wren is also a member the team.
For their second case, they must find out who is stalking Sherry's stepmother Polly aka the Ruler and her math teacher.

There are several suspects to keep the reader guessing. Sherry even has to go undercover. When there's evidence that the stalker was too close to the house, Sherry must keep an eye on the Ruler at all times. Sherry's mom is also competing in the ghostlympics. If she wins her event the prize is 5 minutes of real time. Sherry could she her mom again.

The author has created a wonderful protagonist in Sherry Holmes Baldwin. She's like everyone else she just happens to communicate with her ghost mom. Other then that Sherry deals with the same things as other girls. Her life doesn't stop because of a case. Sherry still has homework to do, tests to study for, an anniversary to celebrate, a girl who wants her boyfriend and a best friend to hang out with and outfits to accessorize.

I love Sherry's voice. Sherry and her best friend Junie go to the Ruler's old school for clues.

"Skateboard parks are always a hotbed of gossip. Seriously. If you're like in France or somewhere foreign and you need the scoop on a middle, go immediately to the nearest skate park. We walk over and peer through the chain link fence. Two guys are in there, totally decked out in padding and helmets. One has a white helmet with black skulls and crimson eyes. Very fake-o tough. The other guy's helmet is solid blue. Very Wal-mart. They're really into their boards. These are fanatical skateboarders who probably have lousy grades and a reputation for ditching class a bunch and wearing only name brand skate clothes. We have them at my school too. I've heard they don't make reliable boyfriends."

I So Don't Do Spooky is so much fun. When I read a series, I love when an author gives more, when the next book is better than the last. Summy does just that with I So Don't Do Spooky. Fans of I So Don't Do Myteries will love it.

Come back tomorrow for Part II, my interview with the author and give away.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Devil's Kiss Sarwat Chadda

Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda
After reading an interview with the author over at Finding Wonderland, where the author said This

The violence is there for a reason. I'm hoping it affects you because it is brutal and leads to loss. I hate the 'kill and quip' style of comedy violence where brutal things happen and the hero walks away with a smart one-liner. Death has consequences. I needed to establish that on the first page, on the first line.
And This
"What's interesting is the feedback I've had from some schools regarding the religious and ethnic mix of the characters. Again it was just how I see the world, so that's what I wrote."

I knew I had to read Devil Kiss. 15 yr old Bilquis (Billie) SanGreal has spent half her life in training to be a Knights Templar, a secret organization that defends against darkness. Billie is the only female Knight. Their numbers were once large, now its only a few. Billie's father is the man in charge.

I loved Billie. She's a strong female protagonist like the cover implies. Everything Billie does isn't always right. I found her missteps and at times uncertainty refreshing. Like in Cashore's Graceling there's gender roll reversal. Billie's best friend Kay has been in training since his psychic abilities were discovered. Billie is right in the middle of all the fights. Kay is told to stay out of the way. Billie is trained to use weapons from around the world.

An archangel is determined to bring people back to God by making children sick. The Knights must protect the people and recapture the fallen angel. I really enjoyed Devil's Kiss. Chadda embraces different ethnicity's and religions with a natural ease. I loved the action/ fight scenes. It's a definite page turner with some unexpected surprises.

Ages 12up

Monday, December 7, 2009

We Troubled The Waters. Ntozake Shange Rod Brown

We Troubled the Waters by Ntozake Shange paintings by Rod Brown
This is a collection of 18 poems, from freed to the civil rights. Beginning with Booker T Washingtion School, 1941. About the first one room school for Black children and their teachers from Tuskgee.

There's a poem about Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. Brown's painting of Dr. King is amazing. Overall, Brown's art made me pause and take notice. They are simply could be hanging in a museum beautiful.

The three poems that stand out for me - Crying Trees, The Ku Klux Klan and Brother Malcolm.

Crying Trees - Is about Black men being lynched. Shange's words are enough to touch a readers heart. Though for this particular poem I noticed Brown's art first. A picture is worth a thousand words is a saying for a reason. Black men hanging from trees is an ugly truth of this countries past.

The Ku Klux Klan - This poem stood out for me for two reasons. 1. Like lynching, I think the Klan tends to get overlooked. 2. The last line is lovely.

"hatred dies hard death and the Klan aint dead yet"

Brother Malcolm - Malcolm X, seems to be excluded or forgotten from children's books. I am not sure which.

Fans of Ntozake Shange and Rod Brown will love We Troubled The Waters. This is a wonderful place to begin for people unfamiliar with their work. This collection will make you think, remember, teach and lead to discussions.
Ages 10 up

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dragonbreath:Attack of the Ninja Frogs Ursula Vernon

Dragonbreath: Attack of the Ninja Frogs by Ursula Vernon

I love this series. The first book Dragonbreath came out earlier this year. After, I finished it, I was like okay, the store is going to need at least five more copies. Dragonbreath has been one of my go to books this year.

It's perfect for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Its a great holiday add on to the Diary of the Wimpy Kid . Or if a child has read all the Wimpy Kid books, or you don't know which one they're on get them Dragonbreath. Trust Me. My review

The Second book in the series - Attack of the Ninja Frogs comes out in Feburary. My expectations were very high. I was not disappointed. I loved it. Danny still can't breath fire. This time he's really into Ninja movies.

Danny's best friend Wendell has a crush on the Japanese exchange student, Suki. One day Danny and Wendell come across Suki as she defends herself against a Ninja Frog attack.

She has no idea why Ninja Frogs keep trying to kidnap her. The three go visit Danny's great grandfather an expert in Japanese mythology. Sure enough he tells them what needs to be done to stop the attacks.

Danny and Wendell continue to make a great friendship duo. Danny teases Wendell for liking Suki. At first Danny wants nothing to do with Suki because she's a girl. In the end Danny must admit Suki is one cool manga reading, ninja frog fighting, animal saving chick.

Attack of the Ninja Frogs is laugh out loud funny with spot on illustrations. The author includes some cool ninja facts, that fit in seamlessly with the story. Ages 8up. Scheduled release date is Feb. 4.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Gracias/Thanks Pat Mora John Parra

Gracias/Thanks by Pat Mora illus by John Parra
This is a wonderful bilingual picture book about a boy giving thanks. He thanks everything from the sun that wakes him up in the morning to the crickets that serende him to sleep. I love Parra's colorful illustrations. This is one of those books, I appreicated more the second time around. I rushed through it the first time and missed it simple beauty, and now its all I see.

I am going to try something new. From now on when I review a bilingual picture book. I will say a few sentences in Spanish. Anyone who speaks Spanish feel free to correct me in the comment box . Or leave suggestions of other things I could've said.

Gracias/Thanks es un excelente libro ilustrado. Nino dice gracias de todas. Encantas del coloride ilustraciones. Los colores templado gusta primavera.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Judge Grows in the Bronx/La Juez Que Crecio En El Bronx. Jonah Winter. Edel Rodriquez

Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx/La Juez Que Crecio En El Bronx
by Jonah Winter illus. Edel Rodriguez

This is the childhood story of newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The title A Judge Grows in the Bronx/La Juez Que Crecio En El Bronx and its bilingual format are both very fitting. Judge Sotomayor grew up in the South Bronx and her parents are from Puerto Rico.

Winter's has written a wonderful biography. There's a clear picture of Sotomayor's early years, with her mother and younger brother. Sotomayor's mother working hard to provide for her children, Sotomayor study hard and of course reading Nancy Drew.

The book ends with Sotomayor being appointed to Supreme Court. Rodriquez's illustrations are beautiful and warm. I loved them. He capture's Winter's words and Judge Sotomayor's world with his art.

Winters and Rodriquez have created a lovely biography about the first Latin American Supreme Court Justice. Ages 5up

The opening page.

"You never know what can happen. Sometimes the most beautiful moonflower blossoms in an unexpected place on a chain link, near broken glass, next to an abandoned building - watered by someone whose name you might not even know."

"Uno nunca sabe lo que puede suceder. A veces la mas hermosa campanilla puede florecer en un lugar inesperado - una cerca metalica con vidrios rotos alrededor, junto a un edificio abandonado- regada por alguien cuyo nombre a lo mejor se desconoce"

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The World Is Mine Lyah B. LeFlore DL Warfield

The World Is Mine (Come Up) by Lyah B. LeFlore and DL Warfield
This is LeFlore's YA debut and fourth novel.

Blue Reynolds is a high school junior who dreams of becoming the next big music business mogul. He gets a break early in the novel. While attending a Blackout party with his best friend Colin and their other friend Whiteboy. Blackout parties are popular teen parties that happen once a month. The schools go all out, hiring bands and deejays.

At this particular party the band was late. The packed crowd is unmoved by the hypeman. Blue hits the stage, takes the make and gets the crowd going. When the band finally arrives Blue is ready to chase his dreams. Everything moves pretty quickly after that.

Blue is hired to do his homecoming, soon after Blue Up Productions is born. Set in D.C. Blue wants his company to be the go to for teen parties. Collin, the best friend is right by Blue's side, keeping him grounded. Blue and Collin have a lot of common. Their dad's want them to follow in their footsteps and become lawyers.

Tre is a 15 yr old conscious rapper with skills. Blue wants him to be the first Blue Up Productions artist. Mamie is a deejay who goes by the name DJ Ill Mama. It's hard for a female DJ, Mamie is hoping Blue Up Productions will give her, a big break.

Mamie after an argument with her aunt.

"I placed my headphones over my ears and dropped the needle on the wax, the rock and roll classic Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie. Then I mixed in some classic hip hop and R&B with Mary J Blige's No More Drama. That's exactly what I needed in my life right now - no more drama! All I needed was two turntables and a mic in my hand to feel better."

The chapters alternate (with smooth transitions) between six major characters. Every thing seemed to happen pretty quickly for Blue but Leflore's created likeable characters that made me want to keep reading. The World is Mine was a very enjoyable and entertaining read.

The World is Mine is illustrated by DL Warfield. In 2000 he started a company called Goldfinger. Some of his clients include Nike Sprite, Geffen Records, Sony Music, Nordstrom and Adidas. The illustrations (mainly the characters) are found at the beginning of the chapters. Having someone tell me what the characters look like didn't distract or add to the story.

After reading Warfield's bio, I wished he was utilized more. It seems kind of a waste to use Warfield mainly to illustrate the characters. I am not a visual reader so this would work fine text only. Though if there's going to be illustrations Warfield should be allowed to contribute.

I am happy LeFlore has decided to write YA, its nice to see something thats not only different but good. Ages 14up
Read an excerpt - At the table of contents scroll down to chapter one and enjoy.

Monday, November 30, 2009

An Interview With Rene Colato Lainez

I recently reviewed a wonderful new bilingual picture book René Has Two Lase Names/ René tiene dos apellidos by Rene Colato Lainez. The book is based off the author's childhood experience. On the first day of school Rene's teacher only puts his first last name on his name tag. Rene is confused and sadden by the loss of his maternal grandparents last name. I thought the author did an excellent of showing Rene's connection with his grandparents and I loved that a family tree was incorporated. My review

The author, René Colato Laínez was kind enough to answer a few questions. Since this is a bilingual picture I will begin and end this interview in Spanish.

Hola and bienvenido René. Congratulations on your newest picture book René Has Two Last Names/ René tiene dos apellidos.

How old were you when you moved to the United States?

I was fourteen years old when I left El Salvador to come to the United States. My father and I left on February 17, 1985 and arrived to Los Angeles on April 14, 1985. It was a long and tiring trip. My journey and my immigrant experience are my main focus on my picture books.

What did you think when learned people in the U.S. generally use one last name?

I was in shocked when I received my school id in high school and found out that my mother’s last name was missing. At first I thought it was a mistake, but my school counselor told me that I could use only my father’s last names in my official papers.

In the picture book, young Rene gets to keep both last names. Where you able to hold on two both names in school?

I was able to hold on my two last names on my homework and school projects. Also I have my two last names on my high school and college diplomas. I have a MFA degree in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College.

It's sometimes difficult for someone of another culture to understand a different way of doing things. I loved how you showed, young Rene's connection with all four grandparents. You made it really easy for children to feel René's sadness and loss at having his name shortened. How many drafts did you have to go through to get the story just right?

This is René’s second adventure. I Am René, the Boy/ Soy René, el niño was the first book. Writing René Has Two Last Names/ René tiene dos apellidos was relatively easy because I already knew the characters, (Me and my family). I wrote the first draft after having a phone conversation with my literary agent, Stefanie Von Borstel. We were looking for another story for René and decided that my two last names would be the perfect one. I wrote four more drafts and it was presented to my publisher. A few weeks later, we received a contract!

Do you prefer to read the story in Spanish or English?

I incorporate music, movements and children’s participation in my readings. I had read the book in English and Spanish and bilingually. If all my audience speaks Spanish, I prefer to read my books in Spanish. But I am happy to read it in any language.

Oh man, this book would be great with music. There's wonderful movement throughout.

"In El Salvador, I wrote my name on my homework, my books and my birthday party invitations. Rene Colato Lainez was a happy song that made me dance to the rhythms of the cha cha cha. But in the United States, the song lost the guiro, maracas and drums. Why does my name have to be different here?

It takes a strong person to resist the urge to dance after hearing cha cha cha.

Do you write your picture books in English or Spanish first?

I usually think the story in Spanish first. I do not start to write until I have a clear vision of the beginning, middle and ending. I usually write the first draft in Spanish. Then I translate this draft into English and work in English until the story is ready for submission. The work with my editors is in English. When the story is ready and approved by the publisher, I do the Spanish translation.

And finally, Rene can you tell us a few of your favorite books of the year?

I have a few favorite novels:

THE INVISIBLE MOUNTAIN by Carolina de Robertis
BLESSING'S BEAD by Debby Dahl Edwardson
CONFETTI GIRL by Diana Lopez

Picture books:

JUST IN CASE by Yuyi Morales
by Carmen Tafolla
by Amy Costales

I love a well read author, especially one who has similar taste.

Gracias, Rene. Buena suerte y muchas felicidades por tu nuevo libro ilustrado

Jim Thorpe Original All- American. Joseph Bruchac

Jim Thorpe: Original All-American by Joseph Bruchac
Born on Sac and Fox reservation in 1887, Jim Thorpe was a gifted athlete. The story is told in Thorpe's voice, beginning with life on the reservation and various Indian schools. Thorpe finally ends up at the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania, where they joined the football team. The football coach was none other than Glenn "Pop" Warner. In the 1900's Carlisle football team was a powerhouse defeating many of the Ivy League teams. Thorpe talks about the games and Native American pride.

"October 12 was the Syracuse game, played in Buffalo to take advantage of the bigger field. Having it there also meant that it was right between the Iroquois reservations in New York and Canada. Indians poured in over the bridge from Canada to see us play. It may be hard for people now to understand how important the success of our football team was to a lot of Indian people- people who knew nothing more about football than the fact that our all Indian team was knocking the stuffing out those White teams who thought they were the best. Indian people had lost so much at the time- their land, their ways of life, their languages, and even their children were being taken from them. Any kind of Indian victory was an inspiration for them."

Sports biographies are great revealing so much about the social climate of the time. Besides learning about Thorpe's excellence on the football field- his two 1912 Olympic gold medals and the controversy that followed, there's the story behind Indian schools. The mistreatment of the students, and not being allowed to speak their native languages.

"There was a lot of liberal people in the East who agreed with his ideas that an Indian was just a white man bathed in red. They liked his motto Kill the Indian and save the man. The government liked his ideas too. Fighting the Indian was costing more money than it would to civilize him. I think part of it, too was because they figured that having the children of powerful Indian leaders sent off to school would help keep the tribes in line."

Bruchac made Jim Thorpe come alive in this biography, I love it. Football fans will love all the references to the early years of football. However, this is a biography that transcends the field and should be embraced by non sports fans and sports fans alike. Age 10up

I've linked this post to non-fiction Monday @ Thebooknosher

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate Jacqueline Kelly

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
I loved this book and its beautiful cover, created by Beth White.
Calpurnia (Callie Vee) is the middle child of seven and the only girl. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate has a wonderful opening line.

"By 1899, We had learned to tame the darkness but not the Texas heat."

This is the story of Callie Vee's 11th summer. Kelly's created a wonderful, strong, smart, inquisitive ahead of her time female protagonist.

When Callie Vee tried to check out Darwin's new and controvesial Origin of Species, the librarian refused. All the Tate kids are afraid of their grandfather, and tend to keep their distance. So when Callie Vee tells her grandfather what happened at the library, she's surprised he has a copy of Origin of Species. Callie Vee begins to assist her grandfather with his experiments.

This book was such a pleasure to read, I loved it. It moves with such beautiful ease. Every part of the story from Callie Vee's relationship with her siblings to her uncertain future are fully developed. Callie Vee's voice feels true to her age. This is Jacqueline Kelly's first novel but its so hard to tell. This would make a excellent book club selection. Ages 10 up

"In late June, the Fentress Indicator reported that the temperature was 106 degrees in the middle of the street outside the newspaper office. The paper did not mention the temperature in the shade. I wondered why not, as no one in his right mind spent more than a second in the sun, except to make smartly for the next patch of shadow, whether it be cast by tree or barn or plow horse. It seemed to me that the temperature in the shade would be a lot more useful to the citizens of our town. I labored over a letter to the editor pointing this point out, and to my great amazement, the paper published my letter the following week. To my family's greater amazement, it began to publish the temperature in the shade as well. Reading that it was only 98 in the shade somehow made us all feel a bit cooler."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

My First Editor Shout Out And More

If anyone is wondering, I haven't decided to review only picture books. That might be hard to tell from my last few entries but I ran into a few bad middle grade and young adult books.

If you haven't seen it yet. Check out my review of Rita Williams-Garcia's upcoming release One Crazy Summer @ Color Online - I thought One Crazy Summer was a wonderful book. I loved the three sister who spend the summer of 68 with there mother in Oakland, where they are introduced to Black Panthers.

Lets here it for another historical fiction novel featuring Black people that's not about slavery. Oh yeah.

Lets here it for another historical fiction novel about the Black Panthers. Kekla Magoon's The Rock and the River will soon have some great company.

I've always thought part of an editors job is making sure a novel appeals to the largest audience possible. Sometimes I believe making sure more people will like a book limits the amount of honesty we see in middle grade and young adult fiction with characters of color.

I don't know what didn't make it into the final verison of One Crazy Summer but I know what did. For that I say thank you. For an editor allowing three little Black girls to keep their voices, I am going to give my first ever editor shout out.

Thank you Rosemary Brosnan.

And More
I recently finished The World is Mine by Lyah B LeFlore illus. by DL Warfield. Its the first book in LeFlore's new YA series the The Come Up. This is LeFlore's YA debut and her fourth novel. Having finished the World is Mine, I am very happy LeFlore, has decided to start writing YA fiction.

When I saw that this book was illustrated I didn't know what to expect. The artwork is only near start of a new chapter. I thought it fit in well with the text.

The illustrator Warfied has an extensive bio. I just want to give a quick highlight. In 2000 he launched is own copy called Goldfinger a few of his clients, Nike, Sprite, Dreamworks Music, Nordstrom, Coca Cola , Sony Music and Adidas.

I also recently finished Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda. It took a serious well deserved jump up my reading queue after I read the author's interview at Findering Wonderland., where he said this

The violence is there for a reason. I'm hoping it affects you because it is brutal and leads to loss. I hate the 'kill and quip' style of comedy violence where brutal things happen and the hero walks away with a smart one-liner. Death has consequences. I needed to establish that on the first page, on the first line.

Chadda had me right there and the book embraces diversity. What! Sold.

I will be reviewing both of these books soon. Looking forward to talking about older books again. I think picture books are the hardest to review.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Rain Stomper Addie Boswell Eric Velasquez

The Rain Stomper by Addie Boswell illus. by Eric Velasquez
This picture book is rhythm filled with gorgeous illustrations. I love it. Jazmin is ready to twirl her baton in the big parade. Then the rain comes. Tired of watching it, Jazmin goes outside armed with her baton to stomp out the rain.

Jazmin worked it out before she even got to the sidewalk. While kicking the the rain down the apartment steps, Jazmin does a very nice broadway leg kick.

The Rain Stomper was meant to be read out loud. Boswell's text has such a beautiful flow, with wonderful action. Velasquez illustrations are amazing.

I am going to stop here because I won't do this picture book enough justice. So please check out the google preview

Two of a Kind Jacqui Robbins Matt Phelan

Two of a Kind by Jacqui Robbins illus. by Matt Phelan
This is a wonderful story about two different friendships. Kayla and Melanie, whisper a lot and are only nice to each other. Julisa and Anna will let anyone play with them.

"Kayla and Melanie are two of a kind. That's what Kayla and Melanie say. Even our teacher, Ms. Becky, says it sometimes, like when Kayla and Melanie beg to be partners at work time.
"Julisa and I like to be partners too, but nobody calls us two of a kind. Ms. Becky does say, "Julisa, and Anna, can you help?" a lot. And we do."

In science class Kayla and Melanie make fun of Julisa's glasses, Anna pretends not to notice. Anna is teamed up with Melanie for the science experiment. Melanie is impressed with Anna's rainbow. Anna can now hang out with Melanie and Kayla.

I loved Two of a Kind. It's another great picture book featuring characters of color that has nothing to do with race. Its simply a story of a girl who decide if she likes spending time with the popular girls or her best friend. Julisa's voice is very clear and the dilemma well defined.

Phelan's illustrations are lovely and a perfect fit. I loved that the illustrator depicts Kayla and Melanie wearing matching outfits. He captures the emotions on everyone face. One any given page without reading the text, it's easy to tell what a character's feeling. Ages 5up

Monday, November 23, 2009

Let Freedom Sing Vanessa Newton

Let Freedom Sing by Vanessa Newton
On the first page Newton gives one verse for a few of the popular Freedom songs during the Civil Rights movement.

This Little Light of Mine is the song behind this story. Newton points out several notable people during the Civil Rights movement, who let their light shine, ending with President Obama. Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr are included. The author also recognizes teens who took a stand for change, the Little Rock Nine and The Greensboro Four.

I smiled my way through this book. I loved Newton's illustrations. This is a wonderful picture book about the power of music. With colorful detailed illustrations and slim text Newton conveys the importance of Freedom songs during the Civil Rights movement for younger listeners/readers (4up).

I've linked this post to NonFiction Monday

Friday, November 20, 2009

Long Shot. Chris Paul Frank Morrison

Long Shot: Never Too Small to Dream Big by Chris Paul illus. Frank Morrison
For those who don't follow the NBA Chris Paul is a NBA All -Star, (hence the title) and he is also a very popular player. Before I got ahold of this book, I was worried it would be too much lesson and not enough story. That tends to happen alot with celebrity books, whether they are written by the celebrities themselves or ghostwriters.

Long Shot has a good balance. I loved it. What turns my would be like into love for this story are Morrison's illustrations. I am a huge fan of his style. With another artist this text would be considered good with Morrison its becomes very good.

A young Chris Paul dreams of playing on his school's basketball team but everyone says he is too short. He practices day and night until tryouts. The text and illus. of the tryouts are lovely.

"I picked myself up and got back on defense. The other team's biggest player had the ball. I watched his hips just like C.J. told me to. When he tried to fake right, I wasn't fooled. I darted in and stole the ball. I heaved a chest pass to my teammate under the basket, and right at the buzzer, he scored"

Young basketball fans will love this picture book. Ages 4up

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rene Has Two Last Names / Rene tiene dos apellidos. Rene Colato Lainez. Fabiola Graullera Ramirez.

Rene Has Two Last Names / Rene Tiene Dos Apellidos by Rene Colato Lainez and illus. by Fabiola Graullera Ramirez

The author turns a childhood experience into a bilingual picture book. English is on the top and Spainsh on the bottom. On the first day of school in the United States a young Rene Colato Lainez becomes Rene Colato. The shorter name feels wrong.

"In El Salvador, I wrote my name on my homework, my books and my birthday party invitations. Rene Colato Lainez was a happy song that made me dance to the rhythms of the cha cha cha. But in the United States, the song lost the guiros, and drums. Why does my name have to be different here?"

Young Rene's classmates tease him about his long name. A class project about a family tree allows Rene to explain the importance and meaning behind both last names. The presentation is great. Rene talks about about all four grandparents and the attributes he shares with each.

"And this is me, " I said, pointing to my picture in the family tree. "I am Rene Colato Lainez. I am as hard working as Abuelo Rene and as creative as Abuela Amelia. I can tell wonderful stories like Abuelo Julio and enjoy music like Abuela Angela. If you call me Rene Colato only, the other half of my family disappears."

I really liked this story. The illustrations are okay . There were a few pictures that made me smile, especially those of the grandparents. There is also a very cute cat. I would've liked the illustrations more if the children's eyes didn't seem to pop out of their heads. The large eyes didn't keep me from enjoying the story. The author does an excellent drawing a picture so children will understand his feeling of loss.

" Rene Colato looked incomplete. It was like hamburger without the meat or a pizza without cheese or a hot dog without a wiener. Yuck!"

After reading or hearing this story young readers will understand the significance and meaning behind two last names for the Latino culture.
Ages 6up

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Monstrumologist Rick Yancey

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
This book was perfectly scary and not for squeamish readers. (it should come with a warning label). This is the journal writings of 12yr old Will Henry, an assitant to Dr. Warthrop a monstrumologist. Dr. Warthrop is a member of a small group of men who study monsters, specifically Anthropophagi. Their only source of food are humans. A new breed has been discovered in a graveyard not far from Dr. Warthop's house. I loved this book, the author allows the reader to see every creepy detail.

"Dr. Warthrop reached into the thing's chest with the forceps. I heard the scraping of the metal against something hard - an exposed rib? As he spoke, the doctor tapped thin strips of flesh from the forceps into the metal tray, dark and stringy, like half cured jerky, a piece of white material clinging to one or two of the strands, and I realized he wasn't peeling off pieces of the monster's flesh: the flesh belonged to the face and neck of the girl. I looked down between my outstrectched arms, to the spot where the doctor worked, and saw he had not been scraping at an exposed rib. He had been cleaning the thing's teeth."

The Monstrumologist is for anyone wondering where have all the horror books gone. Its a must for young readers who are budding horror fans. Ages 14up

Read an excerpt

Claudette Colvin : Twice Toward Justice. Phillip Hoose

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose - This is the story of Claudette Colvin, a teenager who got arrested for standing up for her rights. Nine months before Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat Claudette stood her ground.

This is a wonderfully detailed biography. If this is to be the only biography on a teenager who did her part to bring about change, then the world lucked out. The author was able to interview Claudette Colvin. There are some great photographs of the time dispersed throughout. As well as documents and newspaper articles. Claudette Colvin was also one of four plaintiffs in Browder v Gayle. The federal judges ruled bus segregation unconstitutional. Thanks to that ruling Alabama bus boycott soon come to an end.

It would be hard not to be moved by this story and Claudette Colvin, who's act of strength the world was not ready for. This book as a National Book Award finalist. Ages 10up

Read an excerpt This book would go nicely with

The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon

I've linked this post to Nonfiction Monday.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Diversity Roll Call: Early Readers

This weeks Roll Call question comes from Ali @ Worducopia Paricaptes were asked to find early readers with children of color as main characters.

Hill of Fire (I Can Read Book 3) by Thomas P. Lewis

Chang's Paper Pony (I Can Read) by Eleanor Coerr

A Bear for Miguel (I Can Read Book 3) by Elaine Marie Alphin

The Outside Dog (I Can Read Book 3) by Charlotte Pomerantz

Stories Huey Tells (Stepping Stone, paper) by Ann Cameron

Donavan's Word Jar (Trophy Chapter Book) by Monalisa Degross

How to Fish for Trouble (Willimena Rules) by Valerie Wilson Wesley

Tippy Lemmey by Patricia C. McKissack

Keena Ford and the Second-Grade Mix-Up by Melissa Thomson

Luke on the Loose by Harry Bliss

Go Fish (Trophy Chapter Books) by Mary Stolz

Nikki and Deja by Karen English

Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel by Nikki Grimes

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look

Ruby Lu, Brave and True (Ready-for-Chapters) by Lenore Look

All Mixed Up! (Amy Hodgepodge, No. 1) by Kim Wayans

And Coming Soon
Ling & Ting : Not Exactly The Same by Grace Lin - I wish I could take credit for finding this soon to be early reader but I can't. I found out about it thanks to a Little Brown and Company Spring Preview over at Fuse#8

I was familar with many of these titles. I read and really enjoyed Ava Tree and Wishes Three earlier in the year. My review I did find some new books thanks to this roll call. I also discovered that Capital Mysteries features best friends KC Corcoran and Marshall Li solving mysteries near the Capital.

In case you missed it - a question inspired by this roll call.