The Horn Book » Read Roger http://www.hbook.com Publications about books for children and young adults Wed, 06 May 2015 15:00:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.1 Jack and Hazel http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/read-roger/jack-and-hazel/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/read-roger/jack-and-hazel/#respond Thu, 30 Apr 2015 16:09:32 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48995 WHY I have to go to Chicago to see Jack Gantos when he lives only a mile away from my office is a question I’ll happily ignore to hear his Zena Sutherland Lecture at the Chicago Public Library tomorrow night. Join us if you can; otherwise you can read Jack’s speech in the Horn Book this […]

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Jack-the-lad

Jack-the-lad

WHY I have to go to Chicago to see Jack Gantos when he lives only a mile away from my office is a question I’ll happily ignore to hear his Zena Sutherland Lecture at the Chicago Public Library tomorrow night. Join us if you can; otherwise you can read Jack’s speech in the Horn Book this fall. I’m also looking forward to brunch with Hazel Rochman, or, as Milton Meltzer once referred to her, “that damned Hazel Rochman,” the lady having incurred his ire for insisting, in a far-reaching and lastingly influential Booklist editorial, that nonfiction writers for the young cite their sources. Now it’s hard to imagine that they didn’t!

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Selfie Sweepstakes Reviews: Between the Osprey & the Gar http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/read-roger/selfie-sweepstakes-review-between-the-osprey-the-gar/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/read-roger/selfie-sweepstakes-review-between-the-osprey-the-gar/#respond Tue, 21 Apr 2015 19:30:51 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48759 [As an experiment last fall, I invited self-publishers to submit their best new titles for review. About a dozen heeded the call, and I am reviewing their books in this space.] Between the Osprey & the Gar; written and illustrated by Trahern Cook. Studio Campfire Books, 2014. 32pp. Paper ed. ISBN 978-1500876265. $11.99 As Grandfather tells it, there’s […]

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[As an experiment last fall, I invited self-publishers to submit their best new titles for review. About a dozen heeded the call, and I am reviewing their books in this space.]

ospreyBetween the Osprey & the Gar; written and illustrated by Trahern Cook. Studio Campfire Books, 2014. 32pp. Paper ed. ISBN 978-1500876265. $11.99

As Grandfather tells it, there’s a legend: deep at the bottom of the lake lies the “innocence purse,” said to bring youth to its finder.  So when Grandfather becomes too frail to escort the eleven cousins on their nightly cruise to watch the osprey feed, they decide to retrieve the purse and make the old man young again. This précis is rather easier to follow than the actual text of the picture book itself, which is overstuffed with tangents, flourishes, exclamation points, and cousins. (A few more commas, however, would not have gone amiss.) The acrylic illustrations employ a good range of rich tones in black outline to provide the spooky and magical aura aimed at by the overworked text. R.S.

 

[This review may be distributed freely and excerpted fairly; credit to “Read Roger, The Horn Book Inc., www.hbook.com.”]

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WTF, ALA? http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/read-roger/wtf-ala/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/read-roger/wtf-ala/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 18:46:57 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48442 The new Banned Books Week poster has too many design elements to keep straight, uses a dumb and hard to parse neologism as its main message, and dog-whistles anti-Islamic sentiment with an image of what looks like a woman in a niqab. You had ONE JOB….  

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readstrictedThe new Banned Books Week poster has too many design elements to keep straight, uses a dumb and hard to parse neologism as its main message, and dog-whistles anti-Islamic sentiment with an image of what looks like a woman in a niqab. You had ONE JOB….

 

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Selfie Sweepstakes Reviews: Kell and the Detectives http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/read-roger/selfie-sweepstakes-reviews-kell-and-the-detectives/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/read-roger/selfie-sweepstakes-reviews-kell-and-the-detectives/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 17:07:02 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48434 [As an experiment last fall, I invited self-publishers to submit their best new titles for review. About a dozen heeded the call, and I am reviewing their books in this space.] Kell and the Detectives; written by Darcy Pattison; illustrated by Rich Davis. Mims House, 2015. 118pp. Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-62944-028-6. $ 21.99; Paper ed. ISBN […]

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[As an experiment last fall, I invited self-publishers to submit their best new titles for review. About a dozen heeded the call, and I am reviewing their books in this space.]

KelldetectivesKell and the Detectives; written by Darcy Pattison; illustrated by Rich Davis. Mims House, 2015. 118pp. Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-62944-028-6. $ 21.99; Paper ed. ISBN 978-1-62944-029-3 $10.99.

Introduced in Kell, the Alien, Kell and his parents are aliens living sub rosa on Earth and making their living as party planners. In this fourth book in the Aliens, Inc. series, Kell is faced with a number of mysteries–too many in fact, for any one of them to generate much suspense, and in their totality creating a rather hectic atmosphere. There’s the school principal sniffing out the possibility of Aliens Among Us; the teachers have set the kids on an art-identification project; the piñata at Kell’s friend Aja’s birthday party contains clues to the candy rather than candy itself. Oh, and Kell’s mother is having a baby, if not in the usual way. All is (too-) easily resolved, but the writing is suitably light, and occasional black-and-white decorations keep the page design invitingly open without making the book look too young for the early-chapter-book audience.  R.S.

 

[This review may be distributed freely and excerpted fairly; credit to “Read Roger, The Horn Book Inc., www.hbook.com.”]

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Starred reviews, May/June 2015 Horn Book Magazine http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/read-roger/starred-reviews-mayjune-2015-horn-book-magazine/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/read-roger/starred-reviews-mayjune-2015-horn-book-magazine/#respond Thu, 09 Apr 2015 20:03:29 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48385 The following books will receive starred reviews in the forthcoming May/June issue of The Horn Book Magazine: It’s Only Stanley; written and illustrated by Jon Agee (Dial). My Bike; written and illustrated by Byron Barton (Greenwillow) . I Yam a Donkey!; written and illustrated by Cece Bell (Clarion). Where is Pim?; by Lena Landström; illus. by Olof Landström; trans. from the […]

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from Float, by Daniel Miyares

from Float, by Daniel Miyares

The following books will receive starred reviews in the forthcoming May/June issue of The Horn Book Magazine:

It’s Only Stanley; written and illustrated by Jon Agee (Dial).

My Bike; written and illustrated by Byron Barton (Greenwillow) .

I Yam a Donkey!; written and illustrated by Cece Bell (Clarion).

Where is Pim?; by Lena Landström; illus. by Olof Landström; trans. from the Swedish by Julia Marshall (Gecko).

Float; written and illustrated by Daniel Miyares (Simon).

The Last Leaves Falling; by Sarah Benwell (Simon).

Detective Gordon: The First Case; by Ulf Nilsson; illus. by Gitte Spee; trans. from the Swedish by Julia Marshall (Gecko).

X: A Novel; by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon (Candlewick).

The Alex Crow; by Andrew Smith (Dutton/Penguin).

March: Book Two; by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin; illus. by Nate Powell (Top Shelf Productions).

My Family Tree and Me; written and illustrated by Dušan Petričić (Kids Can).

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What ELSE do you do?: five questions for T. A. Barron http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/read-roger/what-else-do-you-do-five-questions-for-t-a-barron/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/read-roger/what-else-do-you-do-five-questions-for-t-a-barron/#respond Thu, 09 Apr 2015 15:46:27 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48337 Author T. A. Barron instituted the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes in 2000. Named for the author’s mother, the Prize is given annually to fifteen young people “who have made a significant positive difference to people and/or our environment.” Each winner receives $5,000 toward his or her work or higher education. Barron’s latest fantasy […]

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Author T. A. Barron instituted the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes in 2000. Named for the author’s mother, the Prize is given annually to fifteen young people “who have made a significant positive difference to people and/or our environment.” Each winner receives $5,000 toward his or her work or higher education.

Barron’s latest fantasy novel, Atlantis in Peril, will be published in May by Philomel Books, and look for his thoughts about his main man Merlin in the forthcoming May Horn Book Magazine, a special issue on the theme of Transformation. Nominations for the 2015 Barron Prize can be made through the website linked above, but the deadline is April 15th so burn rubber, jk.

This is the first in a series of interviews with children’s book people about what else they do with their time.

Author photo 2014 for Horn Book 1.  RS: Over the fifteen years the prize has been awarded, have you seen any shift in the kind or focus of activism from the nominees? 

TAB: The quality and diversity of these kids has always been extraordinary – they blow my mind every single year. But there have been dramatic shifts in what kinds of activism motivate them. For example, there’s been a big increase in young people helping other people and the environment at the same time – such as one recent winner who invented solar lanterns to replace dangerous and polluting kerosene or dung ones in developing countries. Another change is that nearly all our nominees these days have created their own activism websites and have a real social media presence, which definitely wasn’t the case when we started!

2.  RS: Where do you see the intersection between your work as a novelist and as a conservationist?

TAB: Both are about young people – their struggles, ideals, and surprising power to change the world. Every day, I’m worried about the terrible planetary mess we are handing to our children. Yet every day, I’m amazed by the honesty, freshness, energy, dreams, humor, and courage of young people. So in my writing, I try to authentically earn the idea that every kid, of any description, has a special magic down inside – magic that could change the world. Add to that “hero’s journey” core how much I like to weave ecological ideas into my books…and you have the two themes that flow through all my stories.

Similarly, in my conservation work, I try to share stories of real people who have made a difference to creating a more healthy environment – people like Jane Goodall (visionary), John Muir (activist), Rachel Carson (writer), and Johnny Appleseed (tree planter). We actually do have the power to give Mother Nature the space and flexibility she needs to survive – but we have to believe that before we can do it. The stories we tell young people – the seeds we plant metaphorically as well as physically – can help us get there.

3. RS: Could you describe one of the most surprising or inventive projects you’ve seen submitted for this prize?

TAB: I’m still waiting and hoping for the bright young kid out there who will invent a way for me to write books faster (as a community service, of course)! Alas, that isn’t going to happen. Some of my most favorite recent projects are: (1) Waste No Food, linking food donors with charities that feed the hungry, thus helping people and keeping food waste out of landfills. (2) Literacy for Little Ones, providing new books and early literacy information to nearly 10,000 families with newborn babies. (3) Project TGIF (Turn Grease Into Fuel), collecting waste cooking oil from residents and restaurants and refining it into biodiesel to help New England families with emergency heating needs.

4. RS: What do you think is the key to growing a lifelong idealist?

TAB: Here’s what I hope to convey to any kid from any background: See your life as a story – a story of which YOU are the author. So make it the very best story you can! Tell it with courage; tell it with passion. And also find a way to have a chapter or two where your dreams for how to make the world a better place are made real by the small, everyday things you do in your life – as well as the broader causes you support.

5. RS: If I told you I wanted to save the world, what would you give me to read first?

TAB: I’d give you three books: (1) Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman (on the power of every person to make a difference). (2) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (on the power of love). And (3) The Hero’s Trail (the new 2015 edition) by T. A. Barron. (I know it’s shameless of me to include that last title…but this new edition is so packed with inspiring stories of real young people who have shown amazing courage and compassion that I just can’t resist.)

 

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You may be a boy but HEY http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/read-roger/you-may-be-a-boy-but-hey/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/read-roger/you-may-be-a-boy-but-hey/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2015 16:33:34 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48038 On my post the other day about gender representation in books, I mentioned as an afterthought the problem wordless picture books present in identifying gender. I thought the topic deserved a post of its own. It’s not some kind of queer-theory intellectual problem, either, as books that don’t identify the gender of its characters play hell with a […]

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BarbariansOn my post the other day about gender representation in books, I mentioned as an afterthought the problem wordless picture books present in identifying gender. I thought the topic deserved a post of its own.

It’s not some kind of queer-theory intellectual problem, either, as books that don’t identify the gender of its characters play hell with a reviewer’s use of the English language as he or she (see?) tries to get through the review without having resort to a pronoun.

Sometimes we just assume. When I did a Talks with Roger interview with Marla Frazee about The Farmer and the Clown, it occurred to neither of us that the clown wasn’t a little boy–but really, you could go either way.

It isn’t just wordless books, either. In the comments on the gender post, Lynn Michaels points out that Mo Willems’ Pigeon is ungendered. Without a moment’s thought I would have said Pigeon was a male, and I see that our reviews of those books consistently thus identify Pigeon as such as well. But unless somebody has textual evidence otherwise, nope. The latest–The Pigeon Needs a Bath!–does i.d. the bird as a male on the back cover (“The Pigeon is filthy! Do YOU think he should take a bath?”) but as Martha and I just spent a month telling our reviewing students, flap copy Doesn’t Count and should never be used in a review. Neither, apparently, should sexist assumptions.

JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith’s new Sidewalk Flowers, which we are reviewing in the May issue, was something of a Rorschach test in these offices. It’s a wordless book about, most basically, a grownup and a child walking through a city while the child gathers and redistributes flowers before arriving at a house and resident family. I assumed it was a father and his  daughter walking home to Mom but reactions beyond that here included a backstory of recent or impending divorce and a tense tale of a careless dad barely paying attention to his charge as they negotiate the gritty streets. And while the child has long hair, can we even assume it is a girl? There are no words to help us out. While the author says the child is a girl, again, Doesn’t Count.

A colleague who identifies as neither male nor female cites this as an excellent example of why we should ditch gendered pronouns in favor of the more inclusive “they.” They may be right!

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2015 Zena Sutherland Lecture by Jack Gantos http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/read-roger/2015-zena-sutherland-lecture-by-jack-gantos/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/read-roger/2015-zena-sutherland-lecture-by-jack-gantos/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 14:46:33 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48013 Please join us for the 2015 Zena Sutherland Lecture, “A Pair of Jacks to Open,” with Jack Gantos. Friday May 1, Harold Washington Library in Chicago, 7:30PM. The lecture is free but tickets are required.

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GantosSuttonPlease join us for the 2015 Zena Sutherland Lecture, “A Pair of Jacks to Open,” with Jack Gantos. Friday May 1, Harold Washington Library in Chicago, 7:30PM. The lecture is free but tickets are required.

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Gender by the numbers http://www.hbook.com/2015/03/blogs/read-roger/gender-by-the-numbers/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/03/blogs/read-roger/gender-by-the-numbers/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 18:01:20 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=47998 A poster in our office lobby for the upcoming Simmons International Women’s Film Forum alerted me to the interestingly low–29%–number of female protagonists in films for children.* I guess it ain’t all Disney Princesses after all. How does this compare with the numbers in books for children? I asked myself. The gender disparity had been on my […]

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girlsmoviesA poster in our office lobby for the upcoming Simmons International Women’s Film Forum alerted me to the interestingly low–29%–number of female protagonists in films for children.* I guess it ain’t all Disney Princesses after all.

How does this compare with the numbers in books for children? I asked myself. The gender disparity had been on my mind ever since I got sucked into the Bookriot discussion about girls and YA spurred by the Andrew Smith drama of a couple of weeks ago. Somebody on the thread was vociferously decrying the lack of female protagonists in YA novels, which made me think what you all are probably thinking: Wait, wut?

But the poster and the discussion made me think it was a good time to do some arithmetic. Or, more precisely, engage our talented Emerson College intern Mariesa Negosanti in researching the question of gender representation in youth fiction via our ever-handy Horn Book Guide.

Our sample was limited to the Fall 2014 issue of the Guide, which reviewed all hardcover books published in the first six months of 2014 by U.S. publishers listed in LMP. Mariesa coded each fiction review in the Intermediate and Older Fiction sections for gender of protagonist(s): male, female, both, neither. The numbers for Older (books for 12-18-year-olds) were not surprising, except maybe to that zealot at Bookriot: 65% of the protagonists in YA novels were female, 22% were male, boys and girls shared main-character duties in 13%.  I thought the numbers for Intermediate (roughly 9-12-year-olds) would be about the same but NO: 48% boys, 36% girls, 16% both.

I’m guessing the greater numbers of boy-heroes in fiction for these younger readers is probably attributable to our conventional wisdom that pre-teen girls are more likely to read about boys than the other way around, so a book about a boy is more likely to garner more readers. And that–conventional wisdom again–teen boys are less likely to read for pleasure than teen girls are, period, and that those boys who do read tend to prefer nonfiction.

Down at the other end of the age spectrum, we’ve  been thinking about gender from a completely different angle: is it fair to label as male or female a character in a wordless picture book? Because, who knows?

 

*The poster is actually putting an optimistic gloss on what looks to be the study from which it is drawn. According to the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which conducted the original research, the 29.2 percentage refers to speaking parts, not protagonists!

 

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Selfie Sweepstakes Reviews: Mary-Ellen O’Keefe’s Word-Speaking Diet http://www.hbook.com/2015/03/blogs/read-roger/selfie-sweepstakes-reviews-mary-ellen-okeefes-word-speaking-diet/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/03/blogs/read-roger/selfie-sweepstakes-reviews-mary-ellen-okeefes-word-speaking-diet/#respond Mon, 30 Mar 2015 19:04:58 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=47958 [As an experiment last fall, I invited self-publishers to submit their best new titles for review. About a dozen heeded the call, and I am reviewing their books in this space.] Mary-Ellen O’Keefe’s Word-Speaking Diet; written by Tom Neely; illustrated by Sharad Kumar. Tom Neely, 2014. 36pp. ISBN 978-1502-44425-7. Paper ed. $9.97. Mary-Ellen has always been a […]

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[As an experiment last fall, I invited self-publishers to submit their best new titles for review. About a dozen heeded the call, and I am reviewing their books in this space.]

NeelyMary-Ellen O’Keefe’s Word-Speaking Diet; written by Tom Neely; illustrated by Sharad Kumar. Tom Neely, 2014. 36pp. ISBN 978-1502-44425-7. Paper ed. $9.97.

Mary-Ellen has always been a big talker–at home. But why is she paralyzed into silence at school? Situational shyness is a condition known to most of us, and kids will understand why this gabby little girl seems almost like a different person once she’s in the company of her teacher and classmates. A little pep talk from Mom clears the problem right up, and, while I guess that’s nice for Mary-Anne, it doesn’t make for a plot that’s very satisfying to the rest of us. The tale is told in awkwardly rhyming couplets, many of which seem more content to mark time than move the story forward,  and the illustrations are generic cartoons.   R.S.

 

[This review may be distributed freely and excerpted fairly; credit to “Read Roger, The Horn Book Inc., www.hbook.com.]

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