The Horn Book http://www.hbook.com Publications about books for children and young adults Tue, 28 Apr 2015 19:32:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.4 Review of The Boy in the Black Suit http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/choosing-books/review-of-the-week/review-of-the-boy-in-the-black-suit/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/choosing-books/review-of-the-week/review-of-the-boy-in-the-black-suit/#respond Tue, 28 Apr 2015 15:00:27 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48917 The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds Middle School, High School   Atheneum   257 pp. 1/15   978-1-4424-5950-2   $17.99 e-book ed. 978-1-4424-5952-6   $10.99 High-school senior Matt wears a black suit because he has a job at Mr. Ray’s funeral home (setting up chairs and food for services), but also — metaphorically — because he himself […]

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reynolds_boy-in-the-black-suitThe Boy in the Black Suit
by Jason Reynolds
Middle School, High School   Atheneum   257 pp.
1/15   978-1-4424-5950-2   $17.99
e-book ed. 978-1-4424-5952-6   $10.99

High-school senior Matt wears a black suit because he has a job at Mr. Ray’s funeral home (setting up chairs and food for services), but also — metaphorically — because he himself is in mourning, for the mother who died just before the book begins and the long-on-the-wagon father who has returned to drink. Although his work responsibilities end when the funerals begin, Matt finds himself sticking around to find “the person hurting the most,” hoping that his or her expression of grief will perhaps help him deal with his own. While all this sounds like heavy problem-novel territory, it isn’t. Matt is a good kid with a good best friend, Chris; their Bed-Stuy neighborhood is gritty but also a place of true community. There’s even a sweet romance between Matt and a girl he meets at her grandmother’s funeral. With When I Was the Greatest (rev. 1/14) and now this book, Reynolds writes about urban African American kids in a way, warm and empathetic, that the late Walter Dean Myers would have applauded.

From the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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Spring has sprung (at last!) http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/out-of-the-box/spring-has-sprung-at-last/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/out-of-the-box/spring-has-sprung-at-last/#respond Mon, 27 Apr 2015 16:33:20 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48872 In Boston we’re still having as many chilly days as nice ones, but spring is indisputably (finally) here… and the the winter of our public transit discontent is a distant-ish memory. (The MBTA kindly gave free rides all day Friday to thank passengers for their patience during the winter. For more on that mess, see […]

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In Boston we’re still having as many chilly days as nice ones, but spring is indisputably (finally) here… and the the winter of our public transit discontent is a distant-ish memory. (The MBTA kindly gave free rides all day Friday to thank passengers for their patience during the winter. For more on that mess, see Shoshana’s hilarious Bostonian dystopia, “Diverted.”)

Two more signs of spring spotted near our office:

geese

geese (and the ubiquitous goose poop) in the Simmons quad

sailboats on the charles

sailboats on the Charles River

Here are all of our “signs of springtime” posts (with recommended books):

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The Writer’s Page: In the Time of Daily Magic http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/choosing-books/horn-book-magazine/the-writers-page-in-the-time-of-daily-magic/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/choosing-books/horn-book-magazine/the-writers-page-in-the-time-of-daily-magic/#respond Mon, 27 Apr 2015 15:03:34 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48662 I have come to believe that the books that influence us most are the ones we read at the impressionable ages of eight to twelve, the time when readers are most open to imagination and possibilities. It’s 
the time, too, when our worldview is being formed, not only by experience but also by our readings. […]

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eager_halfmagic_coverI have come to believe that the books that influence us most are the ones we read at the impressionable ages of eight to twelve, the time when readers are most open to imagination and possibilities. It’s 
the time, too, when our worldview is being formed, not only by experience but also by our readings. Who you become as a reader deeply affects who you become as a person and, for some, as a writer. My first introduction to literary magic was through the work of Edward Eager, which I was lucky enough to find when my life was falling apart in the real world as my parents divorced. I stumbled upon Half Magic stored on a dusty shelf at the Malverne Public Library one summer day when I still had all the time in the world. Was I looking for a way out of the sorrow that surrounded me? Absolutely. But I was looking for more. I was looking for instructions on how to live one’s life, something that was especially unclear to me at the time. Back then, no one recommended books to a child-reader, at least not to me, and finding a book that spoke to you all on your own, turning those first few pages and entering into another world, was pure magic.

Eager, who was a lyricist and dramatist, is a dry, witty, adult sort of writer who fell into children’s books accidentally (isn’t that how all good magic stories begin?) when he discovered E. Nesbit’s work while searching for books to share with his son, Fritz. His droll, self-effacing essay “Daily Magic,” published in The Horn Book Magazine in October 1958, celebrated both E. Nesbit and Eager’s own delight in finding magic. He wrote for children through his own adult sensibility in the time 
of real-life Mad Men, cocktails and trains home to Connecticut, but he was an adult who remembered what children loved most. At the same time, he never spoke down to his readers, something I very much appreciated and had previously found only in fairy tales. Eager predicted the flowering of magical realism, suggesting that the core of a good magic book was the dailiness of its magic: “So that after you finish reading…you feel it could happen to you, any day now, round any corner.” It’s the very ordinariness of both setting and characters that makes the magic all the more believable. It’s a lesson learned from fairy tales, wherein an ordinary girl can sleep for a hundred years and a perfectly normal brother and sister discover a witch’s house in the woods and beat her at her own game. The best magic, after all, is always woven into the facts of our everyday lives.

Eager insisted that his own books could not have existed without E. Nesbit’s influence. He thought of himself as a more accessible and lesser author, and referred to himself as “second-rate E. Nesbit.” But for American readers his magical worlds may be more relatable than Nesbit’s magical books, which can seem old-fashioned and stuffy to modern children. Eager’s books maintain a timelessness that allows current child readers to be as enchanted as I was when I discovered his books in the sixties. Because Eager is a lover of puns and jokes, his books are both entertaining and adventurous. But behind the fun there is more: the sense that an adult is telling important facts about issues of family loyalty and love, and of course Eager always includes a lesson concerning the love of reading and books. Behind the adventure there is the wise reminder that, even while growing up, it’s still possible to see the world as a place of enchantment and to not lose what we had as children: the power of imagination.

Eager’s theory of magic is that it can and will thwart you whenever possible. For children, well aware that the adult world often thwarts childhood itself, the contrary rules of magic come as no surprise. At last, someone is telling the truth: the world around us often doesn’t make sense, and we have to do our best to figure it out. Magic is playful and unreliable, and that’s half the fun of it, especially when it’s doled out in halves or discovered in a lake on a summer vacation. The participants have to figure out the rules as they go along, as they would a puzzle or a game with rules that may shift and change. They make mistakes — some amusing, some dangerous — and in many instances they have to tame the magic and take control of it lest it take control of them. Is this not the deepest fear and wish of every child? That he or she will manage to take charge of a world that is chaotic and unfathomable? As every child reader knows, especially those with unhappy childhoods, the first exit out of the dreariness and difficulties of one’s real life is through reading. All books make for a good escape route, although novels are always preferable, and, as one of the characters in Edward Eager’s bookish and wonderful Seven-Day Magic asserts, “the best kind of book…is a magic book.”

* * *

Eager’s magic series totaled only seven in number due to his untimely death at the age of fifty-three. Still, seven is the most magical of numbers, just enough books to last through a summer. One of the best summers I remember with my own son was the summer of Edward Eager, a glorious time when we read all of the books in the series aloud, often in a hammock, beside a pond that some people said was enchanted. Half Magic begins the series, with a troublemaking talisman found on the sidewalk that grants only half wishes, including a cat that can half-talk in a hilarious half-language. O, unpredictable magic, wise enough to make certain that the adults in the picture remain unaware of its powers! Children can see what adults cannot, in life and in Eager’s book. The novels that follow — Knight’s Castle, Magic by the Lake, The Time Garden, Magic or Not?, and The Well-Wishers — lead up to the final book, the brilliant Seven-Day Magic, which gets to the heart of Eager’s enchantments. Here, a library book that can be checked out only for seven days creates literary enchantment. When I read it I couldn’t help but think: how does Mr. Edward Eager know this is what happened to me in my library, on my summer vacation, when I first discovered Half Magic on the shelf? And then I understood what the best novels do: they know how you feel before you do.

hoffman_practical magicMy own work for children has been influenced by Eager and his creation of what I call suburban magic, and my aptly titled Practical Magic is a book for adults who can still remember what magic was all about. No enchanted woods, no brothers who turn into swans, no vine-covered cottages, but rather small towns where nothing unusual ever happens — until one day, it suddenly does. The suburbs would seem the least likely place in the world to find magic, and yet such places turn out to be rife with enchantment. Here every bit of enchantment matters, and each firefly counts. My own magical books for children occur in small towns and suburbs, often in the summer, often involving the characters who most need magic in their lives: the lonely, the unloved, the secret-keeper, the fearful, the outsider that most of us were at some point in childhood.

Here is the best thing about magic: you never know if it’s real or imagined. But as Eager suggested, “The next best thing to having it actually happen to you is to read about it…” As a child I found solace in books in a way I couldn’t in the real world. I understood, in some deep, immutable way, that even the powerless have power through imagination. That is the gift of magic and of Edward Eager’s books. All you have to do is walk out the door on a July afternoon and turn the corner, and magic will be waiting for you. All you have to do is read.

From the May/June 2015 special issue of The Horn Book Magazine: Transformations.

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Review of Meet the Dullards http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/choosing-books/review-of-the-week/review-of-meet-the-dullards/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/choosing-books/review-of-the-week/review-of-meet-the-dullards/#respond Mon, 27 Apr 2015 15:00:35 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48861 Meet the Dullards by Sara Pennypacker; illus. by Daniel Salmieri Primary   Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins   32 pp. 3/15   978-0-06-219856-3   $17.99 The tradition of Bottner’s The Scaredy Cats (rev. 3/03) and Allard’s Stupids books (The Stupids Die, rev. 8/81) lives on with the Dullards, a family of five engulfed in ennui. The Dullard parents are horrified when […]

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pennypacker_meet the dullardsstar2 Meet the Dullards
by Sara Pennypacker; illus. by Daniel Salmieri
Primary   Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins   32 pp.
3/15   978-0-06-219856-3   $17.99

The tradition of Bottner’s The Scaredy Cats (rev. 3/03) and Allard’s Stupids books (The Stupids Die, rev. 8/81) lives on with the Dullards, a family of five engulfed in ennui. The Dullard parents are horrified when they catch their children Blanda, Borely, and Little Dud reading books, asking to go to school, and even trying to play outdoors. Though the parents try to nip this revolt in the bud by moving to an even more boring house, they are challenged when a welcoming neighbor brings over a cake made with chunky applesauce (“so unpredictable”) and speaks enthusiastically (“‘Please don’t use exclamation marks in front of our children,’ said Mrs. Dullard”). And so it goes until, while watching paint dry (a mix of beige and gray labeled “Custom Dull”), the children finally escape out a window and make their own fun. Close readers will no doubt notice that the books the children were reading in the first pages of the story inspire both their imaginative play and the final circus scene. Pennypacker’s droll, deadpan text is matched by Salmieri’s flat and hilarious illustrations; the characters, with their elongated limbs and prominent eyes, might remind readers of Gru in the movie Despicable Me. The big, wide world is painted in bright reds and blues, while the Dullard parents stick to their predictable oatmeal-colored world, “secure in the knowledge that their children were perfect bores.” Not.

From the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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Week in Review, April 20th-24th http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/news/week-in-review-april-20th-24th/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/news/week-in-review-april-20th-24th/#respond Fri, 24 Apr 2015 19:00:12 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48803 This week on hbook.com… From the May/June issue of The Horn Book Magazine: “Apples to Elephants: Artists in Animation” by Betsy Bird (aka Fuse #8) Children’s Books Boston is now on Facebook — come say hi! Over at YouTube, Roger talks about attending the ALSC/CBC Day of Diversity Reviews of the Week: Picture Book: I Don’t […]

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Week in Review

This week on hbook.com…

From the May/June issue of The Horn Book Magazine: “Apples to Elephants: Artists in Animation” by Betsy Bird (aka Fuse #8)

Children’s Books Boston is now on Facebook — come say hi!

Over at YouTube, Roger talks about attending the ALSC/CBC Day of Diversity

Reviews of the Week:

Read Roger: Selfie Sweepstakes Reviews: Between the Osprey & the Gar

Out of the Box:

Events calendar

See overviews of previous weeks by clicking the tag week in review. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to keep up-to-date on our articles!

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Please pass the beignets http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/out-of-the-box/please-pass-the-beignets/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/out-of-the-box/please-pass-the-beignets/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 16:00:31 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48416 In our upcoming May/June issue, we review two nonfiction books starring jazz greats from the Big Easy: How Jelly Roll Morton Invented Jazz and Trombone Shorty.    Now I’m nostalgic for NOLA, particularly its incredible live music scene! I can’t wait to get back to Frenchmen St. The annual — and beloved — New Orleans […]

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In our upcoming May/June issue, we review two nonfiction books starring jazz greats from the Big Easy: How Jelly Roll Morton Invented Jazz and Trombone Shorty.

 winter_how jelly roll morton invented jazz  andrew_trombone shorty
Now I’m nostalgic for NOLA, particularly its incredible live music scene! I can’t wait to get back to Frenchmen St.

The annual — and beloved — New Orleans Jazz Festival starts today. If (like me) you can’t make it, put on some jazz and check out How Jelly Roll Morton Invented Jazz, Trombone Shorty, or one of these other toe-tapping picture books recommended by The Horn Book Magazine:

 

Fiction

dillon_jazz on a saturday nightThe imaginary octet of Miles Davis, Max Roach, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Stanley Clarke, Ella Fitzgerald, and an unnamed guitarist take their places on stage in Leo and Diane Dillon’s Jazz on a Saturday Night. Music, in the form of patterns resembling African textile art, pours out of the instrumentalists and singer. The authors’ note provides a brief biography of each musician. A CD features the text set to music. (Scholastic/Blue Sky, 2007)

golio_bird & dizBird & Diz author Gary Golio distills the “be-bop-a-skoodley” friendship between musical legends John “Dizzy” Gillespie and Charlie “Bird” Parker into a single jam session. Ed Young illustrates the encounter with a single uninterrupted accordion-folded frieze. Abstracted musical interpretation — with black spirals and melodious blues and greens clashing against fluorescent oranges and pinks, building to a clamorous climax — is grounded by portraits of Bird and Diz. The resulting combination of words and imagery introduces the unique players and captures the controlled, explosive frenzy of their musical collaboration. (Candlewick, 5–8 years)

H061_L.tifWhen Daddy puts a record on the turntable in Jazz Baby, everyone gets into the sound, including the baby in his crib. The rhythmic text continues with everyone singing and dancing until finally “snoozy-woozy baby” drops off to sleep. The vitality comes through both in Lisa Wheeler’s lively text and R. Gregory Christie’s jazzy, brightly colored gouache paintings, their curves and angles highlighted in black ink. (Harcourt, 2007)

 

 

Nonfiction

cline-ransome_benny goodmanBenny Goodman grew up in Chicago, a working-class Jewish boy; Teddy Wilson lived in Tuskegee, Alabama, a middle-class African American boy. Lesa Cline-Ransome’s Benny Goodman & Teddy Wilson: Taking the Stage as the First Black-and-White Jazz Band in History recounts the story of how the two jazz musicians met and formed the Benny Goodman Trio (the “first interracial band to perform publicly”) in short bursts of text, almost like jazz riffs. James E. Ransome’s pencil and watercolor illustrations capture distinctive moments. (Holiday, 2014)

Spirit Seeker by Gary GolioGary Golio’s Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane’s Musical Journey, a picture-book biography best suited to older children and young teens, successfully describes Coltrane’s music and what made it distinctive. The sophisticated illustrations by Rudy Gutierrez show faces with almost photographic realism, while the lines depicting the background scenes are intentionally distorted and abstracted into swirling shapes. Thus the art ingeniously gets across the story’s intangibles: Coltrane’s pain, his drug-addled mind, his spirituality, and his music. (Clarion, 2012)

parker_piano starts hereNearly blind from birth, young Art spends most of his time at the piano. In Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum, author-illustrator Robert Andrew Parker pulls off a book’s tricky present-tense narration by infusing it with a brisk and varied jazz-like rhythm, subtle internal rhyme, and well-placed word repetition. The pen and watercolor illustrations are masterfully executed, showing deeply saturated colors in the backgrounds and people drawn with great gestural energy. (Schwartz & Wade, 2008)

raschka_cosmobiography of sun raJazz pioneer and free-spirited iconoclast Sun Ra (he believed he came from Saturn) gets a portrait as bemusing as the man himself in fantastical tribute The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra: The Sound of Joy Is Enlightening. Author-illustrator Chris Raschka’s trademark loose gestural style is effective in reflecting his subject’s untethered spirit and impenetrable persona. The images themselves are dense and dynamic, full of brilliant color and heavy black. List of selected recordings appended. (Candlewick, 2014)

russell-brown_little melbaSeven-year-old Melba Liston chose to play the trombone, an unconventional choice for a girl. By seventeen, she was touring with the greats, including Dizzy Gillespie and Quincy Jones, but — as a female African American musician traveling through the South — faced many challenges. Katheryn Russell-Brown’s text in biography Little Melba and Her Big Trombone is as smooth and stimulating as a Liston trombone solo. Frank Morrison’s elongated, angular oil paintings perfectly convey the jazz scene. (Lee, 2014)

weatherford_before john was a jazz giantIn Carole Boston Weatherford’s Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane, four-line stanzas list the sounds and experiences that made young Coltrane into the great musician he became. Sean Qualls’s paintings show John listening, focusing, soaking it all in. By the end, he’s making his own music, and the collage, acrylic, and pencil illustrations shift from the realistic to shapes and colors evoking music. An appended author’s note includes selected listening. (Holt, 2008)

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Book & Me intro http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/authors-illustrators/book-me-intro/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/authors-illustrators/book-me-intro/#respond Fri, 24 Apr 2015 15:28:03 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48823 What’s it like to be a children’s author? An author with your name on a book. Sometimes people ask me this. I never know what to say. I don’t blog, I rarely tweet, but I do like to make comics. So, maybe it’s time I spilled the beans — my beans. Other authors may have […]

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Book & Me by Charise Mericle HarperWhat’s it like to be a children’s author? An author with your name on a book. Sometimes people ask me this. I never know what to say. I don’t blog, I rarely tweet, but I do like to make comics. So, maybe it’s time I spilled the beans — my beans. Other authors may have similar beans, but about that I know nothing. Book & Me is part true and part fantasy, but I’m not saying which is which. I hope you like it.

Read the first five Book & Me comics in the May/June Horn Book Magazine Special Issue: Transformations. Then visit hbook.com/book-and-me for all the installments, starting Monday, May 4.

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WWF Together app review http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/choosing-books/app-review-of-the-week/wwf-together-app-review/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/choosing-books/app-review-of-the-week/wwf-together-app-review/#respond Thu, 23 Apr 2015 18:47:54 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48785 With Earth Day‘s 45th anniversary celebration yesterday, it seems a good time to review the World Wildlife Fund’s lovely awareness-raising app WWF Together (2013). The app introduces sixteen endangered species from around the world, each characterized with a quality emphasizing its uniqueness: e.g., panda (“charisma”), elephant (“intelligence”), marine turtle (“longevity”), tiger (“solitude”). Each animal receives […]

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wwf together menuWith Earth Day‘s 45th anniversary celebration yesterday, it seems a good time to review the World Wildlife Fund’s lovely awareness-raising app WWF Together (2013).

The app introduces sixteen endangered species from around the world, each characterized with a quality emphasizing its uniqueness: e.g., panda (“charisma”), elephant (“intelligence”), marine turtle (“longevity”), tiger (“solitude”). Each animal receives its own interactive “story,” comprised of stats (population numbers in the wild; habitat; weight and length; and “distance from you,” the user, if you enabled your device’s location services), spectacular high-def photos, information on threats to its survival, and conservation efforts (particularly WWF’s). Tap an info icon at a photo’s bottom corner to trigger a related pop-up fact — did you know gorillas live in stable family groups, or that bison have been around since the ice age? Many of the stories also include “facetime” (close-up videos with narration) and/or educational activities. At the conclusion of each animal’s section is an opportunity to share it via email or social media and to explore symbolic adoption options.

wwf jaguar menu

wwf together jaguar stats

In addition to truly gorgeous photographs and video of these endangered animals, a cool animated-origami design element illustrates the text throughout. Disappointingly, every time I tried to access the (real-life) origami folding instructions from the app, it crashed — which may well be the fault of our iPad. But they’re easy enough to find and download (for free, although email registration is required) on WWF’s website.

From an unobtrusive menu along the left side, you can access a globe — also with a “folded paper” look — which shows locations of all of the featured species for a global perspective and supplies information on additional endangered species. A news section frequently updates the app with current information. Soothing acoustic music by Copilot rounds out this informative and moving app.

Available for iPad (requires iOS 6.0 or later) and Android devices; free. Recommended for intermediate users and up.

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Review of Touch the Brightest Star http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/choosing-books/reviews/review-of-touch-the-brightest-star/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/choosing-books/reviews/review-of-touch-the-brightest-star/#respond Thu, 23 Apr 2015 14:59:57 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48781 Touch the Brightest Star by Christie Matheson; 
illus. by the author Preschool   Greenwillow   40 pp. 5/15   978-0-06-227447-2   $15.99   g The little bluebird from Tap the Magic Tree (rev. 1/14) flies across the first double-page spread as sunset falls: “Magic happens every night. / First wave good-bye to the sun’s bright light.” In the spacious collage […]

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matheson_touch the brightest starTouch the Brightest Star
by Christie Matheson; 
illus. by the author
Preschool   Greenwillow   40 pp.
5/15   978-0-06-227447-2   $15.99   g

The little bluebird from Tap the Magic Tree (rev. 1/14) flies across the first double-page spread as sunset falls: “Magic happens every night. / First wave good-bye to the sun’s bright light.” In the spacious collage illustrations, swaths of pink and purple streak across the bottom of the page, shading to darker blue at the top, and a birch tree stands off to the far left. Turn the page and the reader is instructed to “gently press the firefly” — and on the next spread, the firefly is “lit up” in the illustration while a deer peeks in from the right outer margin. As in the previous book, Matheson gives readers actions to take for each page, from “swipe the sky,” which is followed on the page turn by a picture of a meteor, to “rub the owls,” which have settled on the birch tree, “on their heads.” She introduces the Big and Little dippers, and at the end the bluebird returns to the tree, and the flowers — closed up tight throughout — open up at sunrise. With the constant, comforting tree and the highlighted changes happening nearby, this exploration of the world at night should be inviting to even the very youngest children, who will also enjoy its imagination-fueled and child-powered interactivity. Its cyclical quality will send them back to the beginning again to pass through another gentle, never scary, nighttime. A closing page gives brief scientific explanations of some of the book’s sights.

From the May/June 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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Review of Trombone Shorty http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/choosing-books/reviews/review-of-trombone-shorty/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/choosing-books/reviews/review-of-trombone-shorty/#respond Wed, 22 Apr 2015 20:49:36 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48775 Trombone Shorty by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews; illus. by Bryan Collier Primary   Abrams   40 pp. 4/15   978-1-4197-1465-8   $17.95 In New Orleans parlance, “Where y’at?” means “hello.” As an opening greeting (repeated three times, creating a jazzy beat), it also signals the beginning of this conversational and personable 
autobiography. Andrews, a.k.a. Trombone Shorty, concentrates on his […]

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andrew_trombone shortyTrombone Shorty
by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews; illus. by Bryan Collier
Primary   Abrams   40 pp.
4/15   978-1-4197-1465-8   $17.95

In New Orleans parlance, “Where y’at?” means “hello.” As an opening greeting (repeated three times, creating a jazzy beat), it also signals the beginning of this conversational and personable 
autobiography. Andrews, a.k.a. Trombone Shorty, concentrates on his younger years: growing up in Tremé, a neighborhood of New Orleans known for its close-knit community and commitment to music; making his own instruments before acquiring and learning to play the trombone; practicing constantly; appearing onstage with Bo Diddley; and finally forming his own successful band. Collier’s expressive watercolor collages layer and texture each page, creating a mix of images that echo the combination of styles Andrews uses to create his own “musical gumbo.” Strong vertical lines burst from his trombone like powerful sounds, while circular shapes float through the pages like background harmonies spilling out of homes and businesses. Hot colors reflect the New Orleans climate, while serene blues are as cool as the music Trombone Shorty produces. An author’s note adds detail to the text; two accompanying photographs of Andrews as a child reinforce the story’s authenticity. Collier discusses his artistic symbolism in an illustrator’s note. Read this one aloud to capture the sounds and sights of Trombone Shorty’s New Orleans.

From the May/June 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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