The Horn Book » Out of the Box http://www.hbook.com Publications about books for children and young adults Fri, 22 Aug 2014 21:01:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.4 Bill Nye the Science Guy app review http://www.hbook.com/2014/08/choosing-books/app-review-of-the-week/bill-nye-science-guy-app-review/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/08/choosing-books/app-review-of-the-week/bill-nye-science-guy-app-review/#respond Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:57:47 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=40220 2013 was an anniversary year for the live-action educational TV program Bill Nye the Science Guy. In honor of that occasion, developer Disney Education created the Bill Nye the Science Guy 20th Anniversary App. Welcome to Nye Labs, where you’ll discover on the main screen (a.k.a. Bill’s retro-looking desk) an assortment of objects that when […]

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bill nye desk Bill Nye the Science Guy app review2013 was an anniversary year for the live-action educational TV program Bill Nye the Science Guy. In honor of that occasion, developer Disney Education created the Bill Nye the Science Guy 20th Anniversary App.

Welcome to Nye Labs, where you’ll discover on the main screen (a.k.a. Bill’s retro-looking desk) an assortment of objects that when tapped lead you to different sections of the app, all narrated by Bill himself.

Learn about telling time with a sundial on Mars versus on Earth (Martian minutes are longer) or enter the “Whorl of Illusion!” to learn about different types of optical illusions. When you tap the Bill Nye bobblehead on the desk, he provides science trivia (e.g., “Humpback whales can go without eating for six months”). In the TV portion of the app, you can watch episodes of the show in which Bill teaches you about chemical reactions, the heart, the planets and sun, gravity, earthquakes, magnetism, friction, light optics, and mammals. NB: Each video costs an additional $1.99 in the app store. “The Book of Do-It-Yourself Experiments” provides instructions for hands-on projects, such as testing eggshell strength and cleaning pennies, to try at home.

bill nye book Bill Nye the Science Guy app review

Two games are included in the app. One is an “Archeology Dig of Science” with robot Diggity and his dog Rocky in the yard behind the lab. Complete three levels (crust, mantle, core) by having the robot dig down into the earth to discover artifacts worth points. You need to earn a certain number of points within the time limit to advance to the next level. In the other game you are looking for signs of life on the Plutoid Pluto — but you have to travel there from Earth in a rocket ship. Along the way you’ll pass other planets and learn facts about each one. You must figure out how to use each planet’s orbit to move you forward in space when you launch your rocket; timing is everything here. You also must complete missions along the way, such as photographing each planet and launching satellites. Engaging in missions will earn you “money,” which you need to continue playing the game (launching rockets is expensive!). But remember to save some missions for the end so you can drop a probe on Pluto and get back to Earth. And don’t get lost in space!

bill nye space Bill Nye the Science Guy app review

Both games were a bit tricky to master and certainly not designed for the youngest users, but with a little practice they were fairly enjoyable.

Inside the desk drawer on the main page, you’ll find a few little extras, including a step-by-step guide on “How to Tie a Bow Tie” — so you can wear one like Bill Nye — and a copy of the Periodic Table of Elements with facts about some of the elements. There’s no way turn off the sound effects or Bill’s narration in any of the sections, so they got repetitive after a while.

This app contains a random assortment of science facts and experiments… but it’s just that sort of variety that made the show so interesting to watch when it aired on PBS Kids in the 1990s and that makes the app, with its impressive and responsive graphics, an informative and entertaining e-introduction to Bill Nye’s approach for making basic science concepts accessible to kids.

Available for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch (requires iOS 6.0 or later); free with in-app purchases. Recommended for primary and intermediate users.

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Sometimes, reading the book just isn’t enough – LeakyCon Lit http://www.hbook.com/2014/08/blogs/out-of-the-box/sometimes-reading-the-book-just-isnt-enough-leakycon-lit/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/08/blogs/out-of-the-box/sometimes-reading-the-book-just-isnt-enough-leakycon-lit/#respond Wed, 20 Aug 2014 20:19:43 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=40215 Well, after the glorious, gleeful exhaustion brought on by the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, your intrepid intern still had a whole conference to attend. For those of you who haven’t heard of LeakyCon, it originally started as a Harry Potter–themed fan conference in 2009, but has since morphed into an all-out geek-fest in which […]

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leakycon Sometimes, reading the book just isn’t enough – LeakyCon LitWell, after the glorious, gleeful exhaustion brought on by the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, your intrepid intern still had a whole conference to attend.

For those of you who haven’t heard of LeakyCon, it originally started as a Harry Potter–themed fan conference in 2009, but has since morphed into an all-out geek-fest in which fan communities from all kinds of media platforms come together to celebrate the power of story and fandom. In fact, the conference has been renamed and will be known as GeekyCon from here on — opening up to the wide, wide world of geekdom!

It will not surprise any of you that I spent most of my time at the conference at the LeakyCon Lit panels. Organized by YA authors Maureen Johnson and Robin Wasserman, LeakyCon Lit brings together YA authors from all over to talk about writing, their books, and plenty of weird, awesome, totally unrelated things. This year’s speakers were Stephanie Perkins, Laurie Halse Anderson, Malinda Lo, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Holly Black, Gayle Forman, John Green, Varian Johnson, Kazu Kibuishi, Lauren Myracle, Rainbow Rowell, and Scott Westerfeld. With such a diverse group presenting, we got to hear about everything from designing love interests to killing off beloved characters, from graphic novels to world-building, from Stephanie Perkins’s morning jigsaw puzzle routine to Alaya Dawn Johnson’s near miss with quicksand.

The programming ranged widely between serious panels (such as “Diversity in YA” and the “War Against YA Lit”) to game shows (including Jeopardy and a variation on The Lying Game, an old British game show). Maureen Johnson interviewed John Green in a Between Two Ferns–eqsue style, providing a hilarious exposé of their friendship. Johnson also moderated the panel about killing off characters — which meant, unfortunately, that the audience didn’t get any new information about a certain beloved [spoiler] she killed off in [spoiler]. But we did have the opportunity to harangue some of the other authors, who discussed the tension between emotional attachment and resonance and deciding when a character’s death serves the story best.

The panel centered on diversity in YA was especially powerful. The panelists discussed YA literature’s erasure and misrepresentation of people with diverse gender identities and sexuality, people of color, and people with disabilities — as well as the kind of backlash faced by authors who create those characters. I found it provocative when the authors on the panel discussed a question they often get regarding their characters of color: “Why did you make that character a specific race if your story isn’t about racism…why bother?”  The discussion which followed emphasized the importance of recognizing the bountiful diversity of experience in the world and the role literature plays in representing that diversity to its readership.

While most of the programming at LeakyCon Lit this year was phenomenal, a couple of the panels were better in conception than they were in execution. One panel called “I Made You, You’re Perfect” focused on romance in YA and how to construct romantic relationships and compatible characters. The panel, however, was comprised entirely of straight women; this lack of diversity was particularly apparent during a mishandled question on asexuality. The “War on YA” panel was concerned with the way that YA as a genre has been either denigrated by the media as too sweet and too small (especially for adult readers) or lambasted as the source of all evil for young people. Rather than exploring this phenomenon and its impact in depth, however, the speakers on the panel mostly reiterated what many of us had seen them write on Twitter and their blogs in recent months.

Overall, however, LeakyCon Lit was a perfect mix of whimsy, banter, and critical discussion. The authors are all knowledgeable and engaging, and their comments and discussions were accessible and enjoyable. I’ve been attending this track for the past four years and I can say with certainty that there is plenty to enjoy for both teens and adults.

The rest of the LeakyCon is not devoid of book-related fun for kids and grown-ups, of course. The subjects of the panels range from investigations into Harry Potter canon and characters to sing-alongs and debates. Each night there’s a concert by bands who get their material from Harry Potter (or The West Wing, or Doctor Who, or a whole host of other awesome platforms and stories). Pemberly Digital, a production company which creates modern adaptions of well-loved classics, premiered the first two episodes of Frankenstein, M.D., which follows Victoria Frankenstein, a young doctor determined to prove herself in a male-dominated field. Pemberly Digital is the same group who created the Emmy award–winning adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Which you should watch right now. Don’t worry. I’ll wait!

Seriously though, they are really good – as is Emma Approved (adapted from Jane Austen’s Emma), which is currently airing on Pemberly’s YouTube channel.

By the time we woke up on Sunday morning, we were about ready to lounge the day away by the pool. But we were in Orlando, and there is no such thing as a trip to Orlando without a visit to the Magic Kingdom. We did have to put down all our new books and our new geeky swag…but books are always there when you get back!

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Matchy-matchy http://www.hbook.com/2014/08/blogs/out-of-the-box/matchy-matchy/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/08/blogs/out-of-the-box/matchy-matchy/#respond Tue, 19 Aug 2014 16:12:56 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=37771 When you realize your reading material coordinates with your desktop wallpaper, mug, and water glass, it may be time to admit you have a control-freakiness problem. And by “you,” I mean me.

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cherry blossoms Matchy matchy

When you realize your reading material coordinates with your desktop wallpaper, mug, and water glass, it may be time to admit you have a control-freakiness problem. And by “you,” I mean me.

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Snark Week http://www.hbook.com/2014/08/choosing-books/recommended-books/snark-week/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/08/choosing-books/recommended-books/snark-week/#respond Fri, 15 Aug 2014 15:58:26 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=40052 In honor of Shark Week, here’s a list of recent YA books featuring sharp-tongued narrators with biting wit. (Thanks to WE television network, home of Will & Grace reruns, for giving us this idea for “Snark Week.”) Hattemer, Kate The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy Middle School, High School    Knopf    327 pp. 4/14 978-0-385-75378-4 […]

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In honor of Shark Week, here’s a list of recent YA books featuring sharp-tongued narrators with biting wit. (Thanks to WE television network, home of Will & Grace reruns, for giving us this idea for “Snark Week.”)

hattemer vigilantepoets 200x300 Snark WeekHattemer, Kate The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy
Middle School, High School    Knopf    327 pp.
4/14 978-0-385-75378-4 $16.99
Library ed. 978-0-385-75379-1 $19.99
e-book ed. 978-0-385-75380-7 $10.99
A reality show competition for the title of “America’s Best Teen Artist” comes to Ethan’s bohemian high school, and his best friend Luke proposes a “folk uprising.” Ethan gets fired up by Luke’s idealism, so he feels profoundly betrayed when their scathing long poem (à la Ezra Pound) lands Luke a spot on For Art’s Sake…Luke’s apparent objective all along. Ethan’s voice — self-deprecating, witty, and full of both literary and pop-culture references — makes him an appealing narrator for the madcap comedy, and readers will cheer as he takes a leading role in his own life.

Howell Girl Defective Snark WeekHowell, Simmone Girl Defective
High School    Atheneum    303 pp.
9/14 978-1-4424-9760-3 $17.99 g
e-book ed. 978-1-4424-9762-7 $10.99
From the roof of her father’s failing used record store, fifteen-year-old Sky and her glamorous older friend Nancy spy a poster of a beautiful but sad-looking girl whose image lingers in Sky’s dreams. When Sky learns that Mia, the girl in the picture, was found dead in nearby St. Kilda harbor — and that Mia’s brother now works in the record store — she wants to learn more. Part mystery, part romance, and part unconventional family story, the book introduces an intriguing cast of characters, each of whom has his or her own mystery or problem to solve. Sky’s first-person narrative is observant, questioning, and self-critical.

maguire egg and spoon Snark WeekMaguire, Gregory Egg & Spoon
Middle School    Candlewick    479 pp.
9/14 978-0-7636-7220-1 $17.99
e-book ed. 978-0-7636-7582-0 $17.99
An imprisoned man tells his story, Scheherazade-like, in letters to the tsar. He begins with Elena, a young girl in the impoverished Russian countryside, who meets well-to-do Ekaterina. Their lives collide and intertwine, sending the story in two directions: to a ball in St. Petersburg and deep into the forest to an unforgettable Baba Yaga — who is exactly the type of hardboiled, witty, snarky, and timeless a character as one could wish for from Maguire.

portes anatomyofamisfit Snark WeekPortes, Andrea Anatomy of a Misfit
High School    Harper/HarperCollins    330 pp.
9/14 978-0-06-231364-5 $17.99 g
e-book ed. 978-0-06-231366-9 $10.99
Anika Dragomir looks the part of the blond-haired, blue-eyed All-American girl-next-door, but “nobody knows that on the inside I am spider soup.” On the first day of school, “nerd-ball turned goth romance hero” Logan McDonough fixes his smoldering gaze on Anika, and they begin a secret courtship — that gets even more complicated when God’s-gift-to-Nebraska, Jared Kline, asks Anika’s mom for permission to take her daughter out on a date. Anika’s observations are razor-sharp, especially when she is describing other people (and especially when she’s ragging on her own family: “My dad is Romanian and looks like Count Chocula. Seriously. He looks like a vampire”).

smith 100 sideways miles Snark WeekSmith, Andrew 100 Sideways Miles
High School    Simon    277 pp.
9/14 978-1-4424-4495-9 $17.99 g
e-book ed. 978-1-4424-4497-3 $10.99
Finn Easton has unusual scars on his back, products of the freak accident that also killed his mother when he was a kid. He has a pretty good life otherwise: his sci-fi novelist father loves him; his best friend Cade makes him laugh; and he has recently met Julia, the girl of his dreams. After Julia moves away, crestfallen Finn embarks on a college visit with Cade, a trip that turns the boys into heroes. Finn has a funny, fluid narrative voice, and his banter with Cade is excellent — and often hilariously vulgar.

willey beetle boy Snark WeekWilley, Margaret Beetle Boy
High School    Carolrhoda Lab    200 pp.
9/14 978-1-4677-2639-9 $17.95
e-book ed. 978-1-4677-4626-7 $12.95
As Charlie Porter convalesces from a ruptured Achilles tendon, his past — years of being paraded around in a beetle costume by his opportunistic father as the child author of the Beetle Boy series — resurfaces in nightmares in which he’s tormented by a giant beetle. Charlie wrestles with anger regarding the exploitation and abandonment he suffered as a child, guilt for escaping that suffering while leaving his little brother behind, and gratitude toward the crotchety children’s book author who cared for him. In her relentlessly honest but hopeful novel, Willey crafts a delicate psychological landscape through carefully timed flashbacks.

For Shark Week reading, click here.

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Dragons, Book 1: Flight of the Returnwing e-book review http://www.hbook.com/2014/08/choosing-books/app-review-of-the-week/dragons-book-1-flight-returnwing-e-book-review/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/08/choosing-books/app-review-of-the-week/dragons-book-1-flight-returnwing-e-book-review/#respond Thu, 14 Aug 2014 18:40:28 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=40078 The brand-new story told in Dreamworks’ Dragons, Book 1: Flight of the Returnwing e-book (Dreamworks Press with Genera Interactive, July 2014) takes place between the 2010 How to Train Your Dragon film (based on Cressida Cowell’s intermediate novel of the same name) and the sequel released earlier this summer. The user begins by creating a […]

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dragons title screen Dragons, Book 1: Flight of the Returnwing e book reviewThe brand-new story told in Dreamworks’ Dragons, Book 1: Flight of the Returnwing e-book (Dreamworks Press with Genera Interactive, July 2014) takes place between the 2010 How to Train Your Dragon film (based on Cressida Cowell’s intermediate novel of the same name) and the sequel released earlier this summer.

The user begins by creating a character profile and selecting one of three reading levels: “hatchling” (suggested for users  five years and younger), “broad wing” (six to eight years), and “titan wing” (nine years and up). The user may easily edit his or her profile or select a different reading level; the engaging narration, music, and sound effects may be turned on or off at any time from the parent-locked settings menu. All three levels of the story have the same basic plot and address the user directly in present-tense, second-person narrative.

You come-to underwater, with amnesia and a mysterious dragon egg in tow, after an apparent shipwreck. Human boy and dragon pair Hiccup and Toothless — protagonists of both the books and films — rescue you from a hungry water dragon, then fly you to their island home, Berk, to help save the hatching egg. The new hatchling gets spooked and escapes, leading you, Hiccup, and Toothless on a merry chase around four island locations (the blacksmith’s shop, the dragon-training academy, the dragon hanger, and a quiet cove) while encountering the human and dragon inhabitants.

dragons cove Dragons, Book 1: Flight of the Returnwing e book review

You finally track down your baby dragon and earn its trust. Navigating among the various locations — or returning to a favorite chapter — is easy with a map of the island.

dragons map Dragons, Book 1: Flight of the Returnwing e book review

Each of the five chapters (one for the shipwreck scene, plus each of the island destinations) is followed by a first-person “journal entry” in which your character ponders her or his forgotten past, describes emotional reactions to the story’s events, and offers some foreshadowing for future installments. Endearing watercolor-like illustrations accompany the entries. Though the main narrative is simplified in the hatchling and broad wing levels, the journal entries are identical across levels and no narration is offered — so younger users may need some help reading these sections.

The humorous text (most nuanced and funniest in titan wing mode) and high-quality animation are accompanied by upbeat music, sound effects, and a few simple interactive moments, including a game of “Returnwing” (think “boomerang”) fetch with Toothless. But the real draw for Dragon fans will be reuniting with these lovable characters.

Available for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch (requires iOS 6.0 or later); $4.99. Next installment coming fall 2014; $.99. Recommended for primary and intermediate users.

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World Elephant Day 2014 http://www.hbook.com/2014/08/choosing-books/world-elephant-day/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/08/choosing-books/world-elephant-day/#respond Wed, 13 Aug 2014 14:52:31 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=40022 To celebrate World Elephant Day (August 12, 2014), here are some books about those larger-than-life creatures, with reviews from The Horn Book Guide Online. Picture Books Bunting, Eve Tweak Tweak 40 pp. Clarion 2011. ISBN 978-0-618-99851-7 (Preschool) Illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier. “‘Hold on to my tail, Little Elephant,’ Mama Elephant said. ‘…If you want to […]

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To celebrate World Elephant Day (August 12, 2014), here are some books about those larger-than-life creatures, with reviews from The Horn Book Guide Online.

Picture Books

tweak World Elephant Day 2014Bunting, Eve Tweak Tweak
40 pp. Clarion 2011. ISBN 978-0-618-99851-7
(Preschool) Illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier. “‘Hold on to my tail, Little Elephant,’ Mama Elephant said. ‘…If you want to ask me a question, tweak twice.’” Tweak and ask she does: from the names of the animals they encounter to what each is doing. Can she, Little Elephant, do those things, too? The pairing of Bunting’s elegant text with Ruzzier’s offbeat art, including surreal, rather Seussian landscapes, is unexpectedly fabulous.

debrunhoff babar World Elephant Day 2014de Brunhoff, Jean and Brunhoff, Laurent de Babar’s Anniversary Album: Six Favorite Stories
144pp. pp. Random 1993. ISBN 0-394-84813-6
(Gr. K-3) Reissue, 1981. Introduction by Maurice Sendak. This compilation of six stories–three by Jean de Brunhoff, Babar’s creator, and three by Jean’s son Laurent–about the French elephant was originally published to commemorate Babar’s fiftieth birthday. The volume includes a photo-essay by Laurent de Brunhoff that includes family photographs and sketches and paintings by both Laurent and his father.

mckee elmersxmas World Elephant Day 2014McKee, David Elmer’s Christmas
32 pp. Andersen 2011. ISBN 978-0-7613-8088-7
(Gr. K-3) After a day of Christmas preparation, patchwork elephant Elmer and seven young elephants spy on Papa Red (complete with Santa hat and whiskers). While watching him gather gifts from under their tree, Elmer explains, “this is the season for giving.” McKee’s story sends a friendly reminder about the importance of generosity during the holidays. Playful, vividly colored illustrations complement the cheery tone.

willems elephants cant dance World Elephant Day 2014Willems, Mo Elephants Cannot Dance!
64 pp. Hyperion 2009. ISBN 978-1-4231-1410-9
(Gr. K-3) Elephant & Piggie Book series. Elephant Gerald intones, “Elephants cannot dance.” But as it turns out, elephants can try to dance. Even though Gerald can’t keep up with Piggie, he has a few (unwitting) moves of his own. Color-coded speech bubbles in this easy reader focus attention on the simple words and expressive illustrations. The easily understood story will provide instant reading success and lots of laughs.

 Fiction

One and Only Ivan World Elephant Day 2014Applegate, Katherine The One and Only Ivan
307 pp. HarperCollins/Harper 2012. ISBN 978-0-06-199225-4
(Gr. 4-6) Illustrated by Patricia Castelao. In short chapters that have the look and feel of prose poems, Applegate captures the voice of Ivan, a captive gorilla who lives at the “Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade.” When a new baby elephant arrives, Ivan realizes they deserve more than their restrictive environment. Ivan’s range of thoughts and emotions poses important questions about kinship and humanity. 2013 Newbery Medal winner.

dicamillo magicianselephant World Elephant Day 2014DiCamillo, Kate The Magician’s Elephant
202 pp. Candlewick 2009. ISBN 978-0-7636-4410-9
(Gr. 4-6) Illustrated by Yoko Tanaka. In a fictional Old World city, Peter searches for his sister, instructed by a fortuneteller to “follow the elephant.” The book’s theme is the triumph of hope over despair, as Peter’s idea that the “world is broken” gives way to a belief in possibility. DiCamillo’s prose is remarkable in this allegorical and surreal novel.

fleischman the white elephant World Elephant Day 2014Fleischman, Sid The White Elephant
95 pp. Greenwillow 2006. ISBN 0-06-113136-9 LE ISBN 0-06-113137-7
(Gr. 1-3) When Run-Run’s elephant accidentally sprays water on a cranky prince, he and Run-Run get a gift they neither want nor can handle: Sahib, a sacred white elephant. Fleischman’s original tale tells a touching story of the enduring power of love. Short chapters, evocative pencil sketches, and a rich Siamese setting will hold the interest of readers and listeners alike.

kelly chained World Elephant Day 2014Kelly, Lynne Chained
248 pp. Farrar/Ferguson 2012. ISBN 978-0-374-31237-4
(Gr. 4-6) Ten-year-old Hastin must endure the cruelty of his employer, a circus owner. Kelly crafts a layered, convincing tale of interspecies friendship as Hastin comes to understand his charge, Nandita, an elephant calf. A kind older man proves an ally in Hastin’s quest to protect Nandita, but it is the bond between boy and elephant that will stick in readers’ minds.

Nonfiction

lewin balarama World Elephant Day 2014Lewin, Ted and Lewin, Betsy Balarama: A Royal Elephant
56 pp. Lee 2009. ISBN 978-1-60060-265-8
(Gr. K-3) In Mysore in southern India, elephants are featured in the annual Dasara festival procession. The Lewins describe Balarama’s triumphant first appearance as procession leader. Pageantry and noble beasts alike are vividly realized in Ted Lewin’s signature watercolors, while Betsy Lewin’s agile drawings add deft characterizations, lively action, and humor. It’s a gorgeous glimpse at a continuing custom. “Elephant Facts” are appended. Glos.

lewin Elephant Quest World Elephant Day 2014Lewin, Ted and Lewin, Betsy Elephant Quest
48 pp. HarperCollins 2000. ISBN 0-688-14111-0 LE ISBN 0-688-14112-9
(Gr. K-3) In search of African elephants in Botswana, the Lewins provide careful observations of animals in their habitats that lend insight into animal behaviors and survival tactics. Throughout, a cheerful tone combines with reverence for the beauty and variety of nature. Betsy Lewin’s humorous, emotive sketches and Ted Lewin’s full-page paintings illustrate their encounters.

oconnell a baby elephant in the wild World Elephant Day 2014O’Connell, Caitlin A Baby Elephant in the Wild
40 pp. Houghton 2014. ISBN 978-0-544-14944-1
(Gr. K-3) Photographs by Caitlin O’Connell and Timothy Rodwell. In text and numerous color photographs we follow a newborn female elephant through her first months in the Namibian scrub desert as she learns the behaviors that will enable her to survive. The account is straightforward and unsentimental yet filled with detailed and fascinating scientific information, including the lifelong ties among elephants that will resonate with readers’ own experience of family.

OConnell Elephant 300x246 World Elephant Day 2014O’Connell, Caitlin and Jackson, Donna M. The Elephant Scientist
71 pp. Houghton 2011. ISBN 978-0-547-05344-8
(Gr. 4-6) Photographs by Caitlin O’Connell and Timothy Rodwell. Scientists in the Field series. Scientist O’Connell’s contributions to our understanding of elephant communication propel this account. O’Connell and Jackson describe the findings in a way that lets readers witness the unfolding of a research program, as hypotheses lead to new insights that beget even more questions. The many photographs, predominantly from Namibian field sites, capture the majestic elder elephants, their always-appealing offspring, and dusty, rugged landscapes. Reading list, websites. Bib., glos., ind. 2012 Boston Globe-Horn Book Nonfiction Honor Book winner.

schubert ballet World Elephant Day 2014Schubert, Leda Ballet of the Elephants
32 pp. Roaring Brook/Brodie 2006. ISBN 1-59643-075-3
(Gr. K-3) Illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker. Big, lumbering elephants performing a ballet? This event did happen–with fifty elephants (and fifty human ballerinas). Four individuals (John Ringling North, George Balanchine, Igor Stravinsky, and Vera Zorina) are artfully introduced through background material that connects each person to the whole. Parker’s loosely scrawled ink outlines contribute to the magical tone. A personal yet informative author’s note is appended. Further reading, websites.

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Just a girl from where nothing really happens http://www.hbook.com/2014/08/blogs/out-of-the-box/just-girl-nothing-really-happens/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/08/blogs/out-of-the-box/just-girl-nothing-really-happens/#respond Tue, 12 Aug 2014 16:00:16 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=38418 Hipster teens rejoice! Here is your new poster child (though she would probably reject the title — which is, of course, the hipster thing to do). With The Isobel Journal: Just a Girl from Where Nothing Really Happens (Switch Press, August 2014; first published in her native UK by Hot Key Press, 2013), nineteen-year-old art […]

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isobel journal Just a girl from where nothing really happensHipster teens rejoice! Here is your new poster child (though she would probably reject the title — which is, of course, the hipster thing to do).

With The Isobel Journal: Just a Girl from Where Nothing Really Happens (Switch Press, August 2014; first published in her native UK by Hot Key Press, 2013), nineteen-year-old art student Isobel Harrop shares her journal of quirky drawings accompanied by obvious, but often hilarious, observations about life. (Sometimes she likes to play “Pretend I am Beyoncé.” Don’t we all?) Imagine Amelia of Amelia’s Notebook growing up and going to the Rhode Island School of Design. If you love the grungy and odd, vintage clothes, championing music no one else has heard of, rhapsodizing about tea, and ironically listening to ’90s girl bands, meet your new best friend!

A few of my favorite entries:

isobel tea Just a girl from where nothing really happens

I can empathize — I, too, fear of being “one of those people.”

isobel smile Just a girl from where nothing really happens

isobel bathroom floor Just a girl from where nothing really happens

Here’s a link to a soundtrack compiled by Isobel to listen to while perusing the book.

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — after hours! http://www.hbook.com/2014/08/blogs/out-of-the-box/wizarding-world-harry-potter-hours/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/08/blogs/out-of-the-box/wizarding-world-harry-potter-hours/#comments Fri, 08 Aug 2014 16:58:28 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=39899 Live, reporting from Orlando, Florida — it’s the intern! Every year around Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling’s birthday (July 31st, in case you aren’t quite the Harry Potter addict I am), approximately 3,000 fans convene for the annual LeakyCon. Once a Harry Potter–only conference, LeakyCon has since opened its doors to fan communities of all […]

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Live, reporting from Orlando, Florida — it’s the intern!

Every year around Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling’s birthday (July 31st, in case you aren’t quite the Harry Potter addict I am), approximately 3,000 fans convene for the annual LeakyCon. Once a Harry Potter–only conference, LeakyCon has since opened its doors to fan communities of all different types, from Star Trek to Sherlock. But we never forget our roots, and this year as part of the conference, many of us got to head over to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the Universal Studios theme park for “Open at the Close,” an after-hours park event exclusive to conference attendees.

The event started before the park closed to give us time to enjoy the rides, so of course when we stepped off the bus around 5:00, we headed straight for Diagon Alley (I’ve always wanted to say that!) and the “Escape from Gringotts” ride which was new to our whole group. It’s a 3D interactive ride, which makes for a fantastic immersive experience. We interrupted Harry, Hermione, and Ron’s escape from Gringotts Wizarding Bank, but luckily we had Bill Weasley to lead us out, guiding us as we crashed over the Gringotts cart track, nearly got attacked by Bellatrix and Voldemort, and finally made it to freedom.

gringotts The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — after hours!

“Escape from Gringotts” ride. Photo by Sara Danver.

The Diagon Alley section of the park is new, but aside from Florida’s characteristic oppressive heat, you could hardly tell you weren’t wandering around in the wizard section of London. The intricacy of detail in the park, from the shops and souvenirs to the faces of the buildings and the costumes of the employees, was enough to convince us that we had somehow figured out the brick-tapping code behind the Leaky Cauldron. Gringotts, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Ollivander’s wand shop, the Magical Menagerie, and even Knockturn Alley line up next to each other to create a (ahem) magical experience.

weasleys wizard wheezes The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — after hours!

Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes in Diagon Alley. Photo by Sara Danver.

But then we went to King’s Cross station and got on the Hogwarts Express — a big, beautiful scarlet train that took us to Hogwarts. HOGWARTS, GUYS.

hogwarts express The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — after hours!

The Hogwarts Express. Photo by Sara Danver.

It was really exciting.

The train itself is pretty uneventful, but images in the window show delightful scenery of the trip out of London through the English moors and the Scottish hills, while on your other side characters in the train’s corridor walk past your compartment.

It’s winter in Hogsmede when you get off the train (which makes a strange contrast to the heat, but still somehow works).

hogsmeade The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — after hours!

Hogsmeade village. Photo by Sara Danver.

There you can ride the old “Dueling Dragons” ride from Universal — repurposed for the Wizarding World park — which is a pretty great roller coaster. But it’s got nothing on “Forbidden Journey,” another immersive ride that jumps and squiggles and pushes and pulls you through the Hogwarts buildings and grounds as Harry, Ron, and Hermione give you a chaotic tour of their school.

Once the park closed at 10:00 pm, though, we were treated to a complimentary meal of beef stew, quinoa and roasted vegetables, salad, and bread. It is a compliment to the chef in the park, and the truly wonderful atmosphere, that we dug into our stew with gusto even though it was about 46 million degrees outside. We also got to wander through the shops with a much smaller crowd than usual and enjoy a few of the shows. Celestina Warbeck and her backup singers were particularly good, although credit where credit is due: Celestina pulled a charismatic member of the audience to join her on stage.

When we finally hopped back on the bus around 1:00 am, the park event was still going strong. Though all that magic really wore me out, both the eleven-year-old Harry Potter fan and the twenty-five-year-old Harry Potter fan in me were wildly happy that I got to knock around Hogwarts and Diagon Alley for a day.

Tune in next time for highlights from the LeakyCon lit track, a fan-focused YA track at the conference hosted by authors Maureen Johnson and Robin Wasserman.

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iRead With Curious George and the Firefighters e-book review http://www.hbook.com/2014/08/choosing-books/app-review-of-the-week/iread-curious-george-firefighters-e-book-review/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/08/choosing-books/app-review-of-the-week/iread-curious-george-firefighters-e-book-review/#respond Thu, 07 Aug 2014 20:32:25 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=39875 iRead With Curious George and the Firefighters (Tribal Nova, 2014) presents a story based on Margret and H. A. Rey’s famous Curious George books in a format designed to help parents read aloud to children and engage them in the story. George and the Man in the Yellow Hat accompany an elementary school class on […]

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iRW curious george menu iRead With Curious George and the Firefighters e book reviewiRead With Curious George and the Firefighters (Tribal Nova, 2014) presents a story based on Margret and H. A. Rey’s famous Curious George books in a format designed to help parents read aloud to children and engage them in the story.

George and the Man in the Yellow Hat accompany an elementary school class on a field trip to the fire station. Naturally, that curious monkey George gets distracted and separated from the group. He slides down the pole, tries on the firefighters’ gear, and jumps on the truck to go along when a call comes in. All ends well: George makes some new friends and gets reunited with the Man in the Yellow Hat.

In “Listen” mode, suitable for independent use by a child, an amiable narrator reads the story aloud. Tapping on bolded, brightly colored words — called “living words” — in the text triggers animated context clues and sound effects for that word (e.g., the brown word “George” dances on monkey feet with a monkey-chatter sound effect; the red “truck” sprouts tires and a flashing light while a siren sounds). These are accompanied by animation in the illustrations (George sprints for the fire truck, losing his too-big firefighter accoutrements along the way). Unobtrusive pulsing circles indicate which parts of the illustrations to tap for interactivity.

iRW george living word1 iRead With Curious George and the Firefighters e book review

The main part of the e-book, “Read and Talk” mode, is intended for an adult user to share with a child. Users choose from ten child and ten adult Playmobil-esque avatar choices (both female and male options, with various hair colors and two skin tones) to represent themselves, then record the “living words” (George, hat, boots, etc.) to be played with the associated animations as the pair reads the story together. The avatars can be changed and the words rerecorded at any time.

The animated avatars appear at the bottom of each screen with questions and comments to encourage discussion between the (real) adult and child users: “I’ve seen fire dogs but have you ever seen a fire monkey?” Prompts with concrete answers (“Look who’s happy to see George! It’s the man with…”) show the child avatar with a thought bubble, which displays a hint when tapped.

iRW curious george prompt iRead With Curious George and the Firefighters e book review

Three levels provide different sets of avatar commentary for different rereading experiences. Completing each level earns the users five “puppets” (i.e., stickers of characters and the items featured as “living words”) to use in the third mode, “Theater.”

In “Theater” mode, the child arranges the puppets they have earned on one of five backgrounds, then records their own George story while moving the puppets around the screen. Once recorded, the narrative and the movement of puppets can be rewatched.

In addition to selecting avatars and recording their own “living words,” users can customize their experience of the e-book with on/off toggles for interactivity, music, sound effects, and recordings plus English, French, and Spanish language options. Tips for reading aloud and discussing books are appended. A good e-book for preschoolers to use alone — but even better as a shared reading experience.

Available for iPad and iPad mini (requires iOS 5.0 or later); $2.99. Recommended for preschool and primary users with adult participation.

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August children’s lit–related events http://www.hbook.com/2014/08/blogs/out-of-the-box/august-childrens-lit-related-events/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/08/blogs/out-of-the-box/august-childrens-lit-related-events/#respond Wed, 06 Aug 2014 20:23:04 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=39862 Kidlit events coming up in and around Boston this month: Tonight at 7:00 pm, Porter Square Books will host a panel of YA authors: Marjorie Agosin and translator Eileen O’Connor, I Lived on Butterfly Hill; Laurie Stolarz, Welcome to the Dark House; and John Plotz, Time and the Tapestry: A William Morris Adventure. Tomorrow, Thursday, […]

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Kidlit events coming up in and around Boston this month:

agosin i lived on butterfly hill August childrens lit–related events Tonight at 7:00 pm, Porter Square Books will host a panel of YA authors: Marjorie Agosin and translator Eileen O’Connor, I Lived on Butterfly Hill; Laurie Stolarz, Welcome to the Dark House; and John Plotz, Time and the Tapestry: A William Morris Adventure.

Tomorrow, Thursday, August 7th, at 4:00 pm, author Kate Klise will lead a writing workshop for kids entering grade 4-6 at the Wellesley Free Library. Participants are invited to join Ms. Klise for a reception preceding the workshop at 3:30 pm. Both events are free, but please register online for the workshop since space is limited.

Happy birthday, Tove Jansson! Join Brookline Booksmith for a special storytime celebrating the Moomin author on Saturday, August 9th, at 10:30 am.

dionne ollie and the science of treasure hunting August childrens lit–related events The Blue Bunny Bookstore will celebrate Erin Dionne’s new book Ollie and the Science of Treasure Hunting (a companion to Moxie and the Art of Rule-Breaking) with a book launch party on Saturday the 9th, at 11:00 am.

From 12:30 to 3:00 pm on Saturday the 9th, author Jen Malone will teach a workshop on developing an author website at The Writers’ Loft. Registration is $20 for Loft members; $30 for non-members.

Author Nicole Groeneweg and illustrator Hazel Mitchell will read their picture book One Word Pearl at the Carle at 2:00 pm on Saturday the 9th. An illustration demonstration and book-signing will follow.

Instructor Courtney Waring will lead a workshop entitled Curriculum Connections from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm at the Carle on Friday, August 15th. Registration is $40; 3 PDP.

judge flight school August childrens lit–related events Author/illustrator Lita Judge will read her new picture book Flight School at the Carle at 2:00 pm on Saturday, August 15th. A drawing demonstration and book-signing will follow.

Artist Emily Neuburger will lead a three-day storytelling art workshop for kids ages 7 to 11, 9:30 am to 11:oo am on Monday, August 18th, through Wednesday the 20th. Registration is  $88 and includes a signed copy of Emily’s book Show Me a Story.

Author/illustrator Ryan O’Rourke will read and sign his book Bella, Lost and Found at a special storytime at The Blue Bunny at 10:30 am on Monday, August 18th.

Therese Sellers will read and sign her book Alpha is for Anthropos at Porter Square Books at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, August 19th.

Author Darcy Pattinson is offering three manuscript revision retreat experiences at the Rolling Ridge Conference and Retreat Center in North Andover from August 22th through 25th. Registration is $250 for the full retreat; workshops also available a la carte.

Kristine Carlson Asselin will lead a workshop on polishing query letters to agents and publishers at the Writers’ Loft on Saturday, August 23rd, from 1:00 to 3:00 pm. Registration is $20 for Writers’ Loft members and $30 for non-members, and includes a query critique.

August’s Kidlit Drink Night meet-up will be held at Meadhall in Cambridge on Wednesday, August 27th, at 5:30 pm. Librarians, teachers, authors, illustrators, publishers, agents, booksellers, and other friends of YA/children’s literature welcome.

More Than Words will host Late Lights author Kara Weiss for a reading and youth-led Q&A on Thursday, August 28th, at 6:00 pm.

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