The Horn Book » Out of the Box http://www.hbook.com Publications about books for children and young adults Fri, 17 Apr 2015 16:17:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Update: Francisco and Robert Jiménez School http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/out-of-the-box/update-francisco-and-robert-jimenez-school/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/out-of-the-box/update-francisco-and-robert-jimenez-school/#respond Thu, 16 Apr 2015 19:15:11 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48621 Back in February I interviewed my mom Gretchen, who’s an instructional aide in Southern California’s Santa Maria–Bonita School District, about her campaign to name the district’s newest elementary school in honor of Dr. Francisco Jiménez. Dr. Jiménez is an author, recipient of a 1998 BGHB Award, and an alum of the area’s schools. And, as […]

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jimenez_the circuitBack in February I interviewed my mom Gretchen, who’s an instructional aide in Southern California’s Santa Maria–Bonita School District, about her campaign to name the district’s newest elementary school in honor of Dr. Francisco Jiménez. Dr. Jiménez is an author, recipient of a 1998 BGHB Award, and an alum of the area’s schools. And, as he has poignantly chronicled in his book The Circuit and its sequels, he was a migrant farmworker child, like many of the district’s current students.

Who better, my mother asks, to recognize as a champion for these children than someone who has walked in their shoes?

Last night the school board’s naming committee met to hear spoken arguments for the three names on the short list of proposals, narrowed down from about eighty. The nomination for Dr. Jimenéz was combined with that for his late brother, Robert Jiménez — who also attended SMBSD schools and was a beloved employee of the district for decades. Bill Libbon worked with the Santa Maria Boys and Girls Club for forty years and recently retired from his position as its executive director. Santa Maria police officer Mark Riddering, who died of ALS in 2008, was instrumental in bringing the D.A.R.E. drug prevention program to Santa Maria schools. Choosing which of these influential community members to honor must have been difficult, but ultimately the committee unanimously voted to christen the new elementary school “Francisco and Robert Jiménez School.” The school will open in August.

Given that the school will have a dual immersion English/Spanish program, it seems especially fitting to name it after the Jiménez brothers. As Spanish speakers in English-only schools, and with their education spotty due to their many moves, their English bilingualism was hard-won.

It’s also good timing to celebrate both brothers, honoring the memory of Robert Jiménez (who passed away in December) and the literary accomplishments of Francisco Jiménez (whose fourth memoir series entry, Taking Hold, pubbed last week.)

Congratulations to the Jiménez family!

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Review of Fiete: A Day on the Farm app http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/choosing-books/app-review-of-the-week/review-of-fiete-a-day-on-the-farm-app/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/choosing-books/app-review-of-the-week/review-of-fiete-a-day-on-the-farm-app/#respond Thu, 16 Apr 2015 17:05:31 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48618 In Fiete: A Day on the Farm (German developer Ahoiii, December 2014), children help sailor Fiete — star of his own previous, self-titled app — and his farmer friends, Hein and Hinnerk, throughout their busy day. The home screen shows the three in a boat. The sky is blue, the hills are rolling, the birds […]

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fiete on the farm menuIn Fiete: A Day on the Farm (German developer Ahoiii, December 2014), children help sailor Fiete — star of his own previous, self-titled app — and his farmer friends, Hein and Hinnerk, throughout their busy day. The home screen shows the three in a boat. The sky is blue, the hills are rolling, the birds are chirping. Entering the app, it’s early morning; there’s a lit lighthouse in the background, and the boat is gently rocking. Touch the large alarm clock icon and you’re taken to the sleeping men’s bedroom — it’s time to wake them up (their gentle snores are audible along with the ticking alarm clock and birds; it’s really quite peaceful). There are no instructions, so you have to figure out what to do. Swiping at each farmer a couple of times seems to do the trick — each wakes up smiling and ready to start the day. First task completed!

You’re taken back to the early-morning landscape where, swiping horizontally, the sun rises in the background and a rooster crows. The farmers are outside and on the dock (they give you a wave).

fiete on the farm dawn

Touch the rooster to complete the next task: gathering eggs. Swipe a hen to get her to stand up, then use your finger to guide the egg down into an outstretched farmer’s hand (if you miss, the egg falls, crack, but to no ill effect).

Next it’s activities such as virtually pulling carrots, shearing sheep (fun!), sawing a tree trunk with Fiete (really fun!), picking apples (and rescuing a cat from the apple tree), milking a cow (in all honesty, a little weird), and, finally, loading each of the items into its proper delivery truck at the end of the day before settling in around a campfire.

fiete on the farm sheep

There are no written instructions anywhere in this “intuitive interactive app,” but it’s pretty easy to get the hang of things. It’s all very low-key and low-stress; the sound effects are quiet nature noises, and background movement is generally of the gentle swaying-in-the-breeze variety. The visuals are all rounded shapes and subdued colors (until the glorious pink sunset); it looks like the digital equivalent of cut-paper collage, with a bit of European edge to keep things from being too sleepy and bucolic. Wherever Fiete goes next, digitally, little kids will likely want to follow.

Available for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch (requires iOS 4.3 or later), and Android devices; $2.99. Recommended for preschool users.

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Hubbub 2015 http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/out-of-the-box/hubbub-2015/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/out-of-the-box/hubbub-2015/#respond Wed, 15 Apr 2015 17:51:32 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48470 This year the Boston Book Festival* is putting on a children’s festival, Hubbub, on June 20, 2015. Billed as “Creative Commotion for Kids,” the fest includes author/illustrator events (headliner: Mo Willems!), kid music (Dan Zanes and Friends), games, puppets, hands-on science activities, stilt-walkers, and more. Yesterday I sat on a panel for the event with […]

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hb_logo_lgThis year the Boston Book Festival* is putting on a children’s festival, Hubbub, on June 20, 2015. Billed as “Creative Commotion for Kids,” the fest includes author/illustrator events (headliner: Mo Willems!), kid music (Dan Zanes and Friends), games, puppets, hands-on science activities, stilt-walkers, and more.

Yesterday I sat on a panel for the event with the distinguished Megan Dowd Lambert, senior lecturer in children’s literature at Simmons College, whose picture book A Crow of His Own, illustrated by David Hyde Costello — and with gay farmers! — pubbed that day, plus she brought her seven-week-old baby; and the esteemed Laura Koenig, children’s services team leader, Central Library Boston Public Library (I want to go to there). The topic was “Under the Radar.” Each panelist presented favorite books, past and upcoming, that make us want to talk about ‘em, followed by a lively Q&A session that touched on early chapter books, board-books-to-picture-books (three recommended authors: Karen Katz, Rosemary Wells, Helen Oxenbury), and digital media.

For your pleasure, here are three booklists from the event:

Books in the Home, from My Home to Yours by Megan Dowd Lambert

Elissa’s List: A Few of Kids’ Favorite Things: Dinosaurs, Vehicles, Princesses, Animals, Siblings, Diverse Books, and more

Laura’s Favorites: With reviews from The Horn Book Guide Online

And we’ve got resources:

Reviews of the 2015 ALA Award winners, including Newbery, Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, and Theodore Seuss Geisel (awarded to beginning readers)

Reviews of the 2014 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winners and winners’ speeches

The Horn Book Magazine article “Safe Passages: What Makes a Good Early-Expert-Reader Book?”

Our App Review of the Week (including that mind-blowing David Wiesner app, “Spot”)

The event took place at the opulent Four Seasons Hotel. Here are some pictures. Oh, and on the way out we ran into David Ortiz. No biggie.

4seasonspiano

4seasonsfood

*Save the date for the Boston Book Festival: October 23-24, 2015

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Money, money, money, money http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/out-of-the-box/money-money-money-money/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/out-of-the-box/money-money-money-money/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 16:58:59 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48547 The up side of Tax Day? It’s a good opportunity to talk to kids about developing smart money sense. (Check out this successful young entrepreneur!) These engaging nonfiction books on the history of money and money management, recommended by The Horn Book Magazine and The Horn Book Guide, should help. Picture Books Why does everybody […]

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The up side of Tax Day? It’s a good opportunity to talk to kids about developing smart money sense. (Check out this successful young entrepreneur!) These engaging nonfiction books on the history of money and money management, recommended by The Horn Book Magazine and The Horn Book Guide, should help.

Picture Books

adler_money madnessWhy does everybody want money? And what did people do before it existed? Money Madness, David A. Adler’s picture-book look at money, is direct, concise, and surprisingly humorous. After discussing bartering and early forms of money, Adler compares the value of different currencies and touches on deflation/inflation. Throughout Edward Miller’s crisp computer-generated illustrations, Uncle Sam and others expand on the informative text. (Holiday, 2009)

jenkins_lemonade in winterIn Emily Jenkins‘s engaging story and math lesson Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money, two siblings try to capture the summer magic of a lemonade stand on a frigid, snowy day. Pauline and John-John search for quarters, shop for groceries, and entice customers. G. Brian Karas’s pencil-and-ink drawings reflect the feeling and color of winter; the brightness of the limeade and lemonade contrast with the otherwise muted surroundings. (Schwartz & Wade, 2012)

reid_lots and lots of coinsA boy talks about his father’s coin collection and what he and Dad have learned in pursuit of this hobby in Margarette S. Reid’s Lots and Lots of Coins. Friendly text discusses money’s history, the U.S. mint, what coins are made of, the value of collected coins, some U.S. history, and games to play with spare change. The lively pages combine text, True Kelley’s cartoonlike illustrations, and diagrams. (Dutton, 2011)

 

 

Intermediate

bernstein_betterlemonade_200x300In 1992, when Daryl Bernstein was fifteen, he wrote the first edition of Better than a Lemonade Stand!: Small Business Ideas for Kids based on his own experience as a young entrepreneur. Twenty years later, he updated the package to incorporate contemporary technology and cautions. Fifty-five business ideas are presented with suggestions and tips on supplies, pricing, advertising, and more. One-page profiles introduce actual “kid entrepreneurs” and their ventures. This edition illustrated by Rob Husberg. (Simon/Aladdin, 2012)

furgang_everything moneyBrimming with information and packed with photos, Kathy Furgang’s almanac-style book Everything Money: A Wealth of Facts, Photos, and Fun! provides many facts about money. From the processes of earning, saving, raising, and spending money to paper-money origami and money scams, this book covers it all. Sidebars by archaeologist Fred Hiebert discuss currency uncovered by archaeological digs and what it could say about a culture. (National Geographic, 2013)

jenkins_history of moneyIn The History of Money: From Bartering to Banking, sixteen brief chapters present an overview of money — the whys and hows of its development, different items that have been employed as currency — from ancient times to today. Although the ideas are challenging, each follows naturally from the one before. Author Martin Jenkins succeeds in presenting challenging ideas; Satoshi Kitamura’s tidy watercolors (spot art and panel illustrations) add humor and help illustrate the concepts. (Candlewick, 2014)

 

Older

roderick_centsibilityStacey Roderick and Ellen Warwick’s Centsibility [Planet Girl series] presents handy methods for managing money: “how to make it, save it, spend it and share it.” Chapters are broken down into subsections (“Mizz Bizz,” “Bank on it”), which are peppered with quizzes and craft projects to keep readers engaged. Hipster illustrations by Monika Melnychuk and references may become dated, but the book’s sound advice is both practical and approachable. (Kids Can, 2008)

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Sally M. Walker on Winnie http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/authors-illustrators/sally-m-walker-on-winnie/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/authors-illustrators/sally-m-walker-on-winnie/#respond Wed, 15 Apr 2015 15:00:35 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48433 In our March/April 2015 issue, Shoshana Flax chatted to author Sally M. Walker about the spark behind her new nonfiction book, Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie the Pooh. Read the review of Winnie here. Shoshana Flax: What inspired your Winnie-the-Pooh research? Sally M. Walker: I enjoyed reading Winnie-the-Pooh as a […]

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colburn and winnie

photo from Wikipedia

In our March/April 2015 issue, Shoshana Flax chatted to author Sally M. Walker about the spark behind her new nonfiction book, Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie the Pooh. Read the review of Winnie here.

Shoshana Flax: What inspired your Winnie-the-Pooh research?

Sally M. Walker: I enjoyed reading Winnie-the-Pooh as a child. As an adult, I was inspired by the prospect of a research adventure that promised a great story. Researching Harry and Winnie’s story combined three of my “loves”: history, animals, and nonfiction. Reading Harry’s wartime diary and visiting Winnie’s home at the London Zoo were two very different, yet equally awesome, journeys.

From the

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“Every book I read’s a journey…” http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/out-of-the-box/every-book-i-reads-a-journey/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/out-of-the-box/every-book-i-reads-a-journey/#respond Tue, 14 Apr 2015 16:00:17 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48421 I love this song and video that singer-songwriter Alastair Moock and his eight-year-old daughter, Elsa, made to support Mass Literacy. The song celebrates reading and libraries — and the video features cameos by librarians from my hometown library!   Download the song here to donate.

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I love this song and video that singer-songwriter Alastair Moock and his eight-year-old daughter, Elsa, made to support Mass Literacy. The song celebrates reading and libraries — and the video features cameos by librarians from my hometown library!

 

Download the song here to donate.

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Take me out to the ballgame http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/out-of-the-box/take-me-out-to-the-ballgame/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/out-of-the-box/take-me-out-to-the-ballgame/#respond Tue, 14 Apr 2015 14:14:00 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48449 Play ball! Baseball season has officially opened (go Red Sox!). Here are some of our favorite baseball-themed books from recent years, all recommended by The Horn Book Magazine and Guide.   Picture Books Straight man Abbott is a tall brown bear and befuddled Costello is a short white bunny in Who’s on First?, a picture-book […]

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Play ball! Baseball season has officially opened (go Red Sox!). Here are some of our favorite baseball-themed books from recent years, all recommended by The Horn Book Magazine and Guide.

 

Picture Books

abbott_who's on firstStraight man Abbott is a tall brown bear and befuddled Costello is a short white bunny in Who’s on First?, a picture-book adaptation of the 1930s comedy routine. Illustrator/adaptor John Martz alters the text very little and includes speech balloons, panels, and changing perspectives to maintain the story’s pace and add clarity for young readers discovering this famous baseball comedy sketch for the first time. (Quirk, 2013)

dickey_knuckleball nedKlutzy ball Ned, star of R. A. Dickey’s Knuckleball Ned, constantly wobbles into things. On his first day of school, the dreaded Foul Ball Gang quickly dubs him Knucklehead Ned. However, Sammy Softball and Connie Curveball think Ned’s moves are cool, and when the unique skills aid a playground rescue, he’s aptly named Knuckleball Ned. Tim Bowers’s illustrations, with endearing baseball-headed characters in light color washes, are the perfect pitch for this amusing tale. (Dial, 2014)

Take Me Out to the Yakyu by Aaron MeshonThe lucky boy in Aaron Meshon’s Take Me Out to the Yakyu gets to go to ballgames in both the United States and in Japan. Each spread showcases one difference between the locales: hot dog in one place, soba noodles in the other. In the rich-hued acrylic illustrations, team colors (cool blues for America and warm reds for Japan) dominate the pages, helping readers keep track of each location. (Atheneum, 2013)

 

Intermediate fiction

berk_say it ain't soIn Josh Berk’s Say It Ain’t So, Mike (Strike Three, You’re Dead) can’t pitch due to an arm injury but gets back into baseball by moving behind the plate. When Mike lands in the starting lineup after the primary catcher is booted for theft, Lenny and Other Mike suspect there’s been a set-up. Lenny’s humorous narration distinguishes this solid middle-school sports mystery. (Knopf, 2014)

burg_all the broken piecsIn All the Broken Pieces by Ann Burg, Vietnamese American seventh grader Matt has two passions — piano and baseball — and one secret: he feels responsible for horrific injuries his little brother sustained in Vietnam during the war. Matt’s painful memories are adeptly captured by the fleeting but powerful images of Burg’s free verse. Working through his past, Matt comes to understand that remembering can open the door to hope. (Scholastic, 2009)

girl who threwSix months after her father’s death, young knuckleballer Molly tries out for the boys’ baseball team. Not everyone is encouraging, but she knows her dad would have approved. In his novel The Girl Who Threw Butterflies, Mich Cochrane allows Molly to deal with her emotions at her own speed and in her own way. In so doing, he creates a compassionate, perceptive, pitch-perfect portrait of grief. (Knopf, 2009)

gratz_brooklyn nineIn The Brooklyn Nine: A Novel in Nine Innings, interlinked short stories set between 1845 and 2002 offer snapshots of nine generations of a New York City family of German Jewish immigrants and their involvement with America’s favorite pastime. With an impressively cohesive mix of sports, historical fiction, and family history, author Alan Gratz has crafted a wonderful baseball book that is more than the sum of its parts. (Dial, 2009)

scaletta_mudvilleIt’s been raining in Moundville for twenty-two years. When the sun miraculously comes out, twelve-year-old baseball lover Roy assembles a scrappy team, including the surly and mysterious foster kid Roy’s father invited into their home. As the “Mudville Nine” resurrect the soaked baseball field, they bring life to a whole town. Author Kurtis Scaletta’s baseball enthusiasm shines through Mudville‘s cast of memorable characters. (Knopf, 2009)

 

Older fiction

koertge_shakespeare makes the playoffsWriter/first baseman/eighth grader Kevin (Shakespeare Bats Cleanup) takes on more challenging poetic forms as well as romantic complications in Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs. Baseball, of course, remains a fixed point, as his team heads to the playoffs. Ron Koertge’s pleasing variety of verse is a seamless fit for his story and characters. Kevin’s ponderings of form and style unobtrusively help inform readers less familiar with poetic technique. (Candlewick, 2010)

 

Nonfiction

bildner_unforgettable seasonTwo baseball records, both set in the 1941 season, have never been broken: Joe DiMaggio hit safely in fifty-six consecutive games and Ted Williams hit for a .406 average. In his book The Unforgettable Season: The Story of Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and the Record-Setting Summer of ’41, Phil Bildner, in an easy, matter-of-fact prose style, tells the men’s stories in alternating sections. S. D. Schindler’s ink, watercolor, and gouache illustrations are perfect for this light, affectionate glimpse of baseball history. (Putnam, 2011)

doeden_world seriesProfusely illustrated with photographs and written in succinct, fast-moving prose, Matt Doeden’s The World Series: Baseball’s Biggest Stage is a historical overview of the World Series that will please baseball fans. Spanning the years from the first, unofficial Series in 1903 to the recent 2012 season, Doeden highlights memorable games, plays, and stars. With invitingly open pages and engaging text, this is definitely worth adding to any baseball book collection. (Millbrook, 2014)

hampton_up close babe ruthIn plain-dealing biography Up Close: Babe Ruth, author Wilborn Hampton reveals Ruth’s rough-and-tumble childhood — when he was seven his parents sent him to a home for orphans and juvenile delinquents; baseball was his ticket out. Later chapters chronicle Ruth’s baseball triumphs and his notorious off-field behavior. This is a candid portrait of a glorious athlete and an imperfect man whose “very name is synonymous with greatness.” (Viking, 2009)

mccully_queen of the diamondEmily Arnold McCully’s Queen of the Diamond: The Lizzie Murphy Story introduces a young woman who, at the beginning of the twentieth century, parlays her love for baseball into a successful career. At age eighteen, Lizzie seizes an opportunity to play professional ball. Drawing crowds because of her gender more so than her considerable skill, she’s denied a salary until she fights for equal pay. Impressionistic ink and watercolor illustrations subtly depict Lizzie as standing out from the crowd. Recognizing her passion and finding a way to make it her life’s work is Lizzie’s gift and the heart of McCully’s story. (Farrar, 5–8 years)

moss_barbed wire baseballMarissa Moss’s Barbed Wire Baseball tells the story of Kenichi Zenimura, who was known as the father of Japanese American baseball, first as a player and later a manager. But after Pearl Harbor, Zeni found himself in an internment camp, and the only way he could make the desolate place feel like home was to build a baseball field. Yuko Shimizu’s bold Japanese calligraphy brush-and-ink illustrations depict the painstaking work involved — and Zeni’s joy at playing. (Abrams, 2013)

rosenstock_streakWith “war spreading like a fever through Europe” in 1941, the heroics of Joe DiMaggio offered a summertime respite as he began a hitting streak that would beat all previous records and has yet to be surpassed. In The Streak: How Joe DiMaggio Became America’s Hero, illustrator Terry Widener is a master at capturing the larger-than-life spirit of baseball through his perfectly attuned acrylics, and Barb Rosenstock’s text matches the art in its exuberance. (Boyds Mills/Calkins Creek, 2014)

Something to ProveIn 1936, was twenty-one-year-old Joe DiMaggio ready for the Major Leagues? Should Satchel Paige, pitching great in the Negro Leagues, be playing in the Majors? A game was set up, and both players proved themselves worthy. In Something to Prove: The Great Satchel Paige vs. Rookie Joe DiMaggio, author Robert Skead uses a little-known baseball episode to portray larger issues of race and justice in America; Floyd Cooper’s grainy brown-toned illustrations nicely evoke the dreamy reminiscences of baseball legend. (Carolrhoda, 2013)

Four books by baseball super-fan Matt Tavares:

Becoming Babe RuthTavares profiles the iconic George Herman “Babe” Ruth, shining a light on the flamboyant slugger’s charitable side, in Becoming Babe Ruth. The author-illustrator expertly conveys Ruth’s charm through mixed-media illustrations — the boyish grin, the huge appetite (one humorous scene features Ruth in front of an outlandish spread at a restaurant), the love of the game he played so well. A standout sports picture-book biography. Stats are appended. (Candlewick, 2013)

tavares_growing up pedroGrowing Up Pedro: How the Martinez Brothers Made It from the Dominican Republic All the Way to the Major Leagues highlights the warm relationship between baseball greats and brothers Ramón and Pedro Martínez, covering their youth in the 1980s Dominican Republic; their signings with the Dodgers; Pedro’s eventual contract with the Red Sox and heroics in the 1999 playoffs; and their present-day return to the Dominican Republic to build churches, schools, and baseball fields. Tavares’s gouache and watercolor paintings lovingly depict both players. (Candlewick, 2014)

tavares_henry aaron's dreamIn Henry Aaron’s Dream, Tavares’s understated, unfussy cadences describe young Hank Aaron’s major-league aspirations. After a brief stint in the Negro Leagues, Aaron signed a minor-league contract with the Braves but faced brutal racism in the South. In a final illustration, Tavares’s skillful combination of watercolor, ink, and pencil shows Aaron in his first major-league game. An author’s note and Aaron’s career stats are included. (Candlewick, 2010)

Matt Tavares "There Goes Ted Williams"Present-tense narrative lends drama and immediacy to There Goes Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived, Tavares’s all-smiles-and-heroics biography of the Boston Red Sox slugger. Watercolor, gouache, and pencil illustrations depict Williams as large as a double-page spread can hold. The less smiley and heroic side to Williams’s character is reserved for an interesting author’s note. Published in time for Fenway Park’s centennial celebrations, this full-of-life biography is a hit. (Candlewick, 2012)

Audrey Vernick "Brothers at Bat"The Acerras of Long Branch, New Jersey, had twelve boys and four girls. In 1938, the oldest nine boys created their own semi-pro team, which played together longer than any of the era’s other (nearly thirty!) teams made up entirely of brothers. In Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team by Audrey Vernick, Steven Salerno’s illustrations bring the story to vivid life, while the beautifully designed pages capture the feel of this slice of American history. (Clarion, 2012)

You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?!Jonah Winter’s colloquial first-person Brooklynese adeptly chronicles Sandy Koufax’s star pitching career You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! André Carrilho’s illustrations complement the text, exquisitely capturing the sport’s drama with angular, elongated figures; the use of color (red, blue, and, most strikingly, gold) to accent the graphite drawings; and a variety of textures, including an attention-grabbing lenticular cover. Sidebars provide interesting and relevant baseball stats. Random/Schwartz & Wade 2009
winter_you never heard of willie maysWinter’s You Never Heard of Willie Mays?!, a companion to You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?!, focuses on African American baseball great Willie Mays. Readers may well feel they’re at the ballpark, witnessing Mays’s signature basket catches, his famous over-the-head catch in center field, and his electrifying base stealing, all captured in Terry Widener’s dynamic acrylic illustrations. A solid, informative, and entertaining sports picture book. (Random/Schwartz & Wade, 2013)

Bill Wise "Silent Star"Bill Wise’s biography Silent Star: The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William Hoy covers Hoy’s whole life, including the attack of meningitis that left him deaf at age three, and celebrates the courage and determination it took for Hoy to make it to the major leagues in 1888. Adam Gustavson’s oil illustrations complement the text nicely, providing historical details that will put readers in the games alongside Hoy, imagining the cheers from the stands that Hoy never heard. (Lee & Low, 2012)

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May/June 2015 special issue, making the sausage http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/out-of-the-box/mayjune-2015-special-issue-making-the-sausage/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/out-of-the-box/mayjune-2015-special-issue-making-the-sausage/#respond Mon, 13 Apr 2015 14:14:15 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=47912 Here’s the May/June 2015 Horn Book Magazine Special Issue: Transformations all laid out. It’s a good one! Look for it in your mailbox later this month, or subscribe now.

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Here’s the May/June 2015 Horn Book Magazine Special Issue: Transformations all laid out. It’s a good one! Look for it in your mailbox later this month, or subscribe now.

May 2015 Horn Book Magazine rough layout

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Insurgent movie review http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/out-of-the-box/insurgent-movie-review/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/out-of-the-box/insurgent-movie-review/#comments Fri, 10 Apr 2015 15:55:50 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48398 Not having read the Divergent series, I thought myself a great choice of reviewer for the movies — I am a clean slate, after all. And Divergent was fun. It had action, sacrifice, kickassery, feminine heroism, and Rose from Titanic. It had fighting and loving and tattoos and whooping and a very attractive, brooding male. […]

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insurgent movie posterNot having read the Divergent series, I thought myself a great choice of reviewer for the movies — I am a clean slate, after all. And Divergent was fun. It had action, sacrifice, kickassery, feminine heroism, and Rose from Titanic. It had fighting and loving and tattoos and whooping and a very attractive, brooding male. I am a fan of all of these things. And so I was eager to see Insurgent (directed by Robert Schwentke; Summit, March 2015). The only thing better than a teen heroine taking down the system in a dystopian future is more of a teen heroine taking down the system in a dystopian future, right?

And in many ways, this movie was just as much fun as the last. Things exploded. A lot. People betrayed and forgave, alliances were conceived and broken, families were created and destroyed. Shailene Woodley was just as bold and defiant a Tris as she was in Divergent. Theo James sexily brooded as Four. As Peter, Miles Teller won my heart with his bad-guy-sass. Mekhi Phifer totally rocked his role as “that guy” (aka Max). The visuals were gorgeous, the costuming perfect, the setting moody and beautiful. And things exploded.

There were a lot of explosions.

But I spent much of the 1 hr 59 minutes squinting at the screen, completely confused. You see, the last time I saw Tris and Four, they were riding into the sunset (and presumably beyond the fence) on the train. Yet, when I met them again in Insurgent, they were living on the most beautiful hippie commune that has existed in the history of ever. After the heroine’s obligatory hair shearing (which might have been less symbolic and more to do with Woodley’s recent role as a cancer patient in The Fault in Our Stars), we learn that Tris, Four, Peter, Caleb (Ansel Elgort, also from The Fault in Our Stars), and Four’s jerk dad are holed up with the Amity faction. Also, mean Dauntless dude Eric (Jai Courtney) found one of the stones from The Fifth Element hidden in Tris’s old Abnegation home.

insurgent message

stone exploding

Now, as stated above, I have not read the books. It is entirely possible that I simply do not have a working understanding of how the world of Divergent runs. But as far as I can tell from my movie viewing, Jeanine (played by Kate Winslet), the head of the Erudite faction, is a totalitarian ruler. The Erudite and Dauntless factions are clearly under her control and — judging by the Dauntless’s ability to enter Candor or Amity territory on Jeanine-based business — Candor and Amity are to some extent, too. Additionally, Jeanine is broadcasting propaganda all over the city, saying that renegade Dauntless led by Tris and Four are responsible for the murder of the Abnegation faction.

So how in the world are Tris and Four living inside the city on Amity land with Amity knowledge? And how are almost two hundred Dauntless hiding out in Candor? Tris and Four get from place to place by walking. Around the city. In daylight. The supposedly hidden Dauntless are literally hanging out on the sidewalk. WHAT IS GOING ON? ARE YOU AN ALL-POWERFUL RULER OR NOT, JEANINE? You can control people’s minds with simulations, kill at will, and invade any faction at any time but you can’t find two hundred tattooed, aggressive, whooping renegades on the sidewalk? GET IT TOGETHER.

Also, Amity and Candor, you can’t hide these people better? Candor was just like “Yeah, whatevs, no one will know you’re Dauntless ’cause we wear black too”? And Amity, I know y’all are pretty chill, but putting someone upstairs is not “hiding” them.

I also learned that the Factionless — who were definitely thin, poor, and homeless in the first movie — are actually more like street punks. They hang out on the train, pick fights with people, and have a giant subterranean warehouse home. And Factionless are not the same as Divergents: while Divergents test as more than one faction, the Factionless do not belong to any of the factions. Because, apparently, it is possible in this world to have absolutely no personality traits. Oh, and Divergents are magic. I don’t know why. No one told me. But they’re totally magical. They don’t respond to Jeanine’s chemical or mind-control manipulations, and they are the only people who can open the message from the founders. Because that’s what the stone from The Fifth Element is: a message from the founders.

BECAUSE ALIENS FOUNDED THE CITY.

No, no, no. They didn’t. I kid.

And then things exploded.

Was the plot cohesive and easy to understand? No. Did I enjoy watching it? Not really. But I don’t think that means it was bad. The acting was completely acceptable, there were surprises, the special effects were very cool… Maybe it was just one of those movies where you had to know the story.

…I’ll probably see the next one.

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Hat Monkey app review http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/choosing-books/app-review-of-the-week/hat-monkey-app-review/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/choosing-books/app-review-of-the-week/hat-monkey-app-review/#respond Thu, 09 Apr 2015 18:46:54 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48369 Let me say straight out that I don’t like monkeys. But I set my personal primate feelings aside to look at app Hat Monkey (2014), trusting in both creator Chris Haughton and developer Fox & Sheep — whose Nighty Night I liked a lot — to provide an enjoyable experience. Happily, the breakdancing, “meep-meep!”-ing Monkey soon […]

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hat monkey menuLet me say straight out that I don’t like monkeys. But I set my personal primate feelings aside to look at app Hat Monkey (2014), trusting in both creator Chris Haughton and developer Fox & Sheep — whose Nighty Night I liked a lot — to provide an enjoyable experience. Happily, the breakdancing, “meep-meep!”-ing Monkey soon won me over.

The app opens with Monkey dancing to surf jazz music, then offers a simple menu (scene selection, language options, a link to info about Haughton’s books, and a link to download more Fox & Sheep apps). From there the app begins a prompt-and-activity structure (“Monkey is coming! Can you open the door?”) that continues throughout the app as Monkey makes himself at home.

hat monkey hiding

“Monkey is hiding. Can you find him?”

The illustrations feature stylized shapes and a limited palette of hot pinks, purples, and oranges in high contrast with Monkey’s royal blue.

What could easily be familiar Pat the Bunny territory instead takes a meta, super-modern direction. After the prompt “Can you send Monkey a text?” choose one of four emoji to send to Monkey — who’s busy reading Haughton’s picture book A Bit Lost, by the way — and watch his cute and funny responses.

hat monkey text   hat monkey reading
(Send the banana, and Monkey surreptitiously licks his phone.) Other prompts include giving Monkey a high-five, learning Monkey’s sweet dance moves, talking to him on the phone using your device’s microphone, and playing saxophones together. The app ends with reading Monkey a bedtime story (Haughton’s Oh No, George!, of course) and turning off the light, sending him off to contented, lightly snoring sleep.

Preschool- and early-primary-perfect humor — including a more-endearing-than-gross fart joke — is communicated through all the app’s elements: the deadpan text; the illustrations; the animations, especially in the movements of Monkey’s huge, expressive eyes; and sound effects. Read a making-of blog post by Haughton here.

Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 7.0 or later); $0.99. Recommended for preschool and early primary users.

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