About Sarah Ellis

Sarah Ellis is a Vancouver-based writer and critic, recently retired from the faculty of The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Review of The Red Hat

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The Red Hat by David Teague; 
illus. by Antoinette Portis Primary   Disney-Hyperion   40 pp. 12/15   978-1-4231-3411-4   $16.99 With a nod to Albert Lamorisse’s film The Red Balloon, and with much of its tenderness, this fable-like story tells of Billy Hightower, whose isolated life atop “the world’s tallest building” changes when another skyscraper is built alongside […]

Antoinette Portis on The Red Hat

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In our January/February 2016 issue, reviewer Sarah Ellis asked illustrator Antoinette Portis about that playful (pesky?) wind in The Red Hat. Read the full review of The Red Hat here. Sarah Ellis: The “bad guy” here is the wind, but in your swirly, spiral line the wind comes across as more playful than malevolent. Was […]

Review of The Plan

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The Plan by Alison Paul; illus. by Barbara Lehman Primary   Houghton   32 pp. 11/15   978-0-544-28333-6   $17.99 In just twenty words and a set of artfully plain pictures, Paul and Lehman reveal a sweet, multilayered story of family loss and closeness. May Swift lives with her father and (anthropomorphized) dog on a prairie farm sometime in […]

Review of Crenshaw

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Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate Intermediate   Feiwel   243 pp. 9/15   978-1-250-04323-8   $16.99   g e-book ed. 978-1-250-08022-6   $9.99 Jackson is a scientist, a skeptic, and nobody’s fool. He’s the resilient fifth-grader (the “most grown-up one in the house”) in a dreamy, overwhelmed family that has fallen on hard times. But sometimes even the hyper-competent need help, and […]

Review of My Family Tree and Me

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My Family Tree and Me by Dušan Petričić; illus. by the author Primary   Kids Can   24 pp. 4/15   978-1-77138-049-2   $16.95 The truth that if one’s parents hadn’t met one wouldn’t exist is a head-exploding realization of childhood. In this celebration of ancestry, Petričić bounces off that revelation to create an innovative introduction to the ordinary […]

Review of Detective Gordon: The First Case

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Detective Gordon: The First Case by Ulf Nilsson; illus. by Gitte Spee; trans. from the Swedish by Julia Marshall Primary, Intermediate   Gecko   96 pp. 4/15   978-1-927271-49-0   $16.99 e-book ed. 978-1-927271-72-8   $9.99 This Swedish import stars toad Detective Gordon, “Chief of Police and Chief of Detectives in the forest.” He’s elderly (for a toad: nineteen), cerebral, […]

Review of The Tight-Rope Walkers

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The Tight-Rope Walkers by David Almond High School   Candlewick   326 pp. 3/15   978-0-7636-7310-9   $17.99   g Dom is a clever, working-class boy from the north of England, beloved of his teachers, the hope of his parents. It’s the early 1960s, an optimistic period in British education, when the son of a shipbuilder could plausibly end up […]

Review of Home

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Home by Carson Ellis; illus by the author Preschool, Primary   Candlewick   40 pp. 2/15   978-0-7636-6529-6   g Ellis presents a dreamy, painterly meditation on the diversity and range of dwellings around the world and across time and imagination. “Home is a house in the country,” the text begins, and the illustration shows a simple-looking house with […]

Review of Harlem Hellfighters

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Harlem Hellfighters by J. Patrick Lewis; 
illus. by Gary Kelley Intermediate, Middle School   Creative Editions   32 pp. 9/14   978-1-56846-246-2   $18.99 The story of the 15th New York National Guard, or the “Harlem Hellfighters,” an all-black regiment that joined the Great War in its final year, is a revealing lens through which to view that conflict. […]

Review of Nuts to You

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Nuts to You by Lynne Rae Perkins; illus. by the author Intermediate    Greenwillow    260 pp. 8/14    978-0-06-009275-7    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-0-06-226220-2    $8.99 Jed the squirrel’s odyssey begins dramatically when he is captured by a hawk and carried far away from his community. Using an “ancient squirrel defensive martial art,” he escapes and so begins his […]