Thursday, December 31, 2009
Perfect Shot Debbie Rigaud
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
The Ever Breath 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
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.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
8th Grade Superzero 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
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
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
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!
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)
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!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I So Don't Do Spooky Barrie Summy (Part I)
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
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.
Monday, December 7, 2009
We Troubled The Waters. Ntozake Shange 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
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
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.
Friday, December 4, 2009
A Judge Grows in the Bronx/La Juez Que Crecio En El Bronx. Jonah Winter. Edel Rodriquez
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"