The Horn Book Publications about books for children and young adults Fri, 22 Jul 2016 20:45:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Week in Review, July 18th-22nd Fri, 22 Jul 2016 20:45:17 +0000 Week in Review

This week on…

Richard Peck Talks with Roger — our inaugural video TWR!

Reviews of the Week:

Read Roger:

Out of the Box: 

Lolly’s Classsroom: Scientists as dreamers

Podcast: 1.20 – Self Publishing and the Selfie Sweepstakes

Events calendar

2016 Summer Reading

See overviews of previous weeks by clicking the tag week in review. Find us on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest to keep up-to-date!

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Harrumph. Fri, 22 Jul 2016 16:51:15 +0000 Protagonists are having terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days in these new and upcoming picture books:

messer_grumpy pants brosgol_leave me alone ferrell_snurch
downes_come home angus john_penguin problems gravel_cranky ballerina
(What’s with the pissy penguins? I thought they were supposed to have happy feet.)

Fortunately, these grumpy characters find ways to turn their frowns upside-down. The protagonist of Jory John and Lane Smith’s Penguin Problems gets a reality check from a more positive friend, while in Elise Gravel’s The Cranky Ballerina, a new hobby (/outlet for cranky feelings) does the trick. And in Claire Messer’s Grumpy Pants, Penguin cheers up with a relaxing bath followed by a good book — a feel-better fix likely familiar to many of us.

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Toca Tailor: Fairy Tales app review Thu, 21 Jul 2016 16:53:44 +0000 fairy tale tailor titleToca Tailor: Fairy Tales (Toca Boca, 2012) is a fairy-tale-themed companion to the original Toca Tailor app, in which you can “make” clothes by tailoring size, choosing fabrics, and adding accoutrements.

Click on one of the two child characters (a light-skinned girl and a darker-skinned boy), and your chosen figure is brought to a cottage room with a hand-cranked sewing machine and a window showing a snowy forest landscape outside. A box with a needle-and-thread icon sits at the bottom left of the screen, a box of accoutrements at the bottom right; two buttons for taking pictures are at the top right. Tap on the sleeves, shirt, and skirt/pants the character is currently wearing to choose from multiple other options for each — all vaguely medieval — then tap the box on the bottom left to open a page where you can customize your outfit.

For the very simplest level of designing, drag and drop fabric swatches onto the pre-designed items and the app fills them in, creating solid-colored (or all-one-pattern) clothes. You can also add buttons, belts, and contrast stitching. Hit the “back” button to see your character now clothed in your personal design. From here, choose fairy-tale-inspired accessories (plumed hats, tall boots, a wolf mask, etc.) to add to the outfit and take a picture of the complete ensemble.

fairy tale tailor photo

Up for a challenge? Alter the size of the pre-designed clothing before choosing fabrics, and resize or rotate swatches for more intricate designs. This adds a level of difficulty (as the square swatches of fabric can only be resized, not reshaped, and nothing can be copied and pasted), requiring you to put some serious time and thought into how to create your fashion masterpiece.

fairy tale tailor diamond dress

In addition to designing with the swatches already loaded, you can take a photo of your own surroundings for a unique fabric pattern. (I, of course, took a picture of books and made it into a shirt.)

After you’ve dressed, accessorized, and photographed your character, you can go back to the menu and choose to play again. The style and type of clothing automatically changes between sessions, so you might first make a pantsuit, then a blouse with puffy pants, then a dress. (The app does not designate any specific clothing items as “male” or “female” — communicating the egalitarian idea that clothing isn’t gendered, and boys and girls can wear whatever the heck they want.)

fairy tale tailor yellow dress

It’s no Singing Cat with the Universe in Its Mouth, but it’s still pretty awesome.

Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 6.0 or later). Recommended for primary users; free.

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Richard Peck Talks with Roger (Video Edition) Wed, 20 Jul 2016 18:55:13 +0000 Richard Peck talks with Roger -- video edition

Sponsored by
Penguin Random House

Talks with Roger is a sponsored supplement to our free monthly e-newsletter, Notes from the Horn Book. To receive Notes, sign up here.

RichardPeck_200x300The Best Man, Richard Peck’s newest novel, will be published by Dial Books for Young Readers in September. It was wonderful to have the chance to catch up with Richard — we are good friends who met in 1984 at an ALA reception introducing his Remembering the Good Times, an exemplar of what a YA problem novel could be in the right hands. Whether you know Richard Peck from his YA realism or his historical (and Newbery-winning) comedies for young readers, The Best Man will take you somewhere new,  even while there is in it a summing-up of the author’s persistent themes and styles developed over a career that has spanned forty-five years and thirty-nine novels.

This is The Horn Book’s inaugural video edition of Talks with Roger, and we couldn’t have asked for a better subject. We’ve included some text and video excerpts from our morning together at Peck’s Upper East Side apartment; the entire conversation can be found by clicking below.


Richard talks with Roger about fathers

RS: Tell me about your dad.

RP: My dad? He was home every night. And unlike the other dads, as a little kid I could go to work with him on the back of his Harley-Davidson.

RS: There’s a picture.

RP: No helmets, of course. I held onto his belt. And I knew not to let go.

RS: What was his job?

RP: He ran a Phillips 66 Gas & Oil — what we called then filling station; the phrase no longer exists — a service station, in the time when you washed the windshields and checked the air. And he ran it like a club, where old, old men hung out, old men who had nowhere else to go. I sat among them, and they told me stories. They told me what it was like to ride the great wheel at the World’s Fair of 1893 in Chicago. And it just burned into my heart. I thought, Nothing that interesting will ever happen to me. And nothing did. So later, when I was old, I wrote Fair Weather, about a farm family that gets to go to that fair and ride the Ferris wheel, see their first light bulb. But then all stories are about opening the door to the wider world.


Richard talks with Roger about technology

BestManRS: You and I had dinner with Rebecca Stead last year or the year before, while you were working on this. The two of you were talking about how to write about the contemporary life of young people with their immersion in social media and devices, when you and she both grew up—

RP: Without.

RS: —without any of that. How do you insert yourself in that generational thing?

RP: And [my characters] were in grade school, so we’re not talking about teen Twitter, we’re talking about kids going from first to sixth grade. It gave me six hard months of my life, because I let it become a problem. I would say to parents, “When does your kid have a phone for school?” “Oh, about fifth grade.” And I’d say to teachers, “When do they have phones?” “Oh, they all got ’em in third.” I wasn’t getting much help. And one day I was saved. I realized I could play it for laughs. So I created a teacher. It’s the most autobiographical character in this book. She’s the homeroom teacher, and she’s allergic to the computer. Every time she goes past it and the printer, it prints out hall passes for everybody.

RS: There’s a funny joke early on, when Archer, who’s the hero, meets this girl at a wedding — the book opens with a wedding and closes with a wedding. She saves him from something, and he says to her, “Don’t save me again. And later, when we’re allowed to have phones, don’t text me.”

RP: And she says, “Deal.” The thought of being saved by a girl is even worse than having to be a ring bearer in a wedding, for a six-year-old. But then the techno problems came along very soon thereafter. We have to deal with this. We have to make sure that technology and instant communication do not destroy the necessary tension of a novel. If everybody knows everything, it’s not a novel. It’s Twitter.

RS: I know. I’ll even be watching TV, a show like 24 or something, some spy show. And you realize that if these people were actually using their cell phones, the story would be over in a minute.

RP: Yes. And then there is the annoyance. I was traveling in Iceland this winter, of all places, with people, younger, and I would get a text in the morning when I was in bed. They’d say, “We’re in the dining room. Are you coming down soon?” And I thought, You’ll see me when you see me.


Richard talks to readers about bullying


Richard talks with Roger about marriage


Richard talks with Roger about indomitable old ladies
RS: We’ve got to have a trademark Richard Peck indomitable old lady, right?

RP: Of course. A tough old lady.

RS: Very.

RP: Yes. And this one is President for Life of the League of Women Voters, so yeah.

RS: Don’t mess with her, boys.

RP: And she is a woman who loses the love of her life in this book. And she remembers being young — she’s younger than I am. She remembers being young in the seventies and being married in a field of daisies, barefoot. So she, too, carries out the motif of marriage and the wedding scene, because she remembers when she was young in the seventies, and it’s sustaining her now that she’s lost her partner.

RS: And we see then, with that, marriage is something for everybody.

RP: Yes.

RS: It brings together two people, but it also brings together a family. And it can bring together a community at the same time.

RP: Yes, it can. Can make a community. And be an occasion for joy, not a car crash. [Watch the complete interview here.]


More on Richard Peck from The Horn Book


Sponsored by
Penguin Random House

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Review of Sabotage: The Mission to Destroy Hitler’s Atomic Bomb Wed, 20 Jul 2016 15:00:34 +0000 bascomb_sabotageSabotage: The Mission to Destroy 
Hitler’s Atomic Bomb
by Neal Bascomb
Middle School, High School    Levine/Scholastic    
306 pp.
6/16    978-0-545-73243-7    $17.99    g
e-book ed.  978-0-545-73533-9    $17.99

In this young readers’ edition of The Winter Fortress, Bascomb (The Nazi Hunters, rev. 9/13) turns his attention to a single, crucial Allied operation of WWII: the disruption of the Nazis’ atomic program by eliminating their supply of heavy water. Bascomb opens with a suspenseful prologue in which nine commandos ski through Nazi-occupied Norway in the dead of winter, getting their first sight of their target, the remote, seemingly impregnable factory at Vemork. “High on the icy crag, its dark silhouette looked like a winter fortress.” Bascomb then backtracks, describing the Nazi invasion of Norway and the Resistance movement that opposed it; the basics of the German atomic program and the properties of heavy water that were necessary to its development. He introduces and then follows each member of the coordinated missions intent on destroying the heavy water: Grouse, which set up the initial camp near Vemork; Gunnerside, trained to attack the factory; and later, the team that sank a passenger ferry transporting heavy water to Germany. There are many names to keep straight and much information to process, but Bascomb admirably balances dramatic tension and context throughout. We hold our breath to see if the ferry bombing is successful, but we are also confronted with the ethics of sacrificing civilian passengers’ lives. Sabotage will find its place in a growing body of narrative nonfiction centering on military and political history, including Sheinkin’s Bomb: The Race to Build — and Steal — the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon (rev. 11/12), of which this operation forms one strand. Appended with archival photographs and a wealth of back matter: an author’s note, an extensive bibliography, an index (unseen), and, most notably, twenty-one pages of source notes.

From the July/August 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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Grumpy Old Men Wed, 20 Jul 2016 14:56:56 +0000 The Grumpy Old Men are coming your way around three o’clock this afternoon. Check back then at the Talks With Roger page to see us.

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Scientists as dreamers Wed, 20 Jul 2016 10:01:02 +0000 Can scientists be dreamers? They not only can, but should! The imagination pushes the boundaries of what can be discovered or created. The picture book biographies of the three subjects below — well-known Carl Sagan, and lesser-known Chester Greenwood and Jean-Henri Fabre — are intriguing examples of scientists who let their imaginations run away with them.

sagan_cosmosStar Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos by Stephanie Roth Sisson
Filled with wonder and imagination, the illustrations in this picture book biography are rendered with watercolors, pencil, and chalk, among other media, to create a memorable look at Sagan’s early life, as a boy in the 1930’s who was fascinated by everything. He was inspired by both the natural and technological world and combined these interests to become an astrophysicist who helped launch the first probes into our solar system, as well as into deep space. Sagan also was a writer and television commentator that brought the wonders of the universe to both the expert and the layman. Sisson writes in a simplistic voice, and concludes the title with additional information on his complex subject, notes of explanation for each page of the book, a short bibliography, and source notes for the included quotations.

Earmuffs for Everyone!Earmuffs for Everyone: How Chester Greenwood Became Know as the Inventor of Earmuffs by Megan McCarthy
Told very much as a story, with direct address to the reader, McCarthy uses her classic style of writing, and bug eyed character illustrations, to tell how Greenwood, in the late 1800’s, made improvements to the previously-designed earmuffs — and also improved other products. Additionally, he and his wife were active in women’s rights. Unfortunately, he died rather young, but his legacy didn’t die with him, as in 1977 Chester Greenwood Day became official in his home state of Maine. Tall tales grew about him, but McCarthy has ferreted out the truth from the legend, as she describes her research strategy in an endnote. Also included: a note about patents and a bibliography.

small_wondersSmall Wonders: Jean-Henri Fabre & His World of Insects by Matthew Clark Smith, illustrated by Giuliano Ferri
Illustrated in dreamy, muted colors that create mystery and mood, and illuminate the setting of the French countryside in the 1800’s, Ferri begins this picture book with a bugs-eye view of Fabre and his work. In a storyteller’s voice, Smith relates the tale of Fabre, the introverted genius, in child appealing description and quotations. Fabre made his life long fascination with insects a world-renowned career. He overcame poverty as a child, the loss of two children, and adult illnesses, but persisted in his studies, earning a doctorate degree for his groundbreaking work with insects. Not always lauded for his controversial observational methods and findings, he persisted in writing poetry and essays with drawings, all aimed at a general audience, of many insects. At 90, he won a Nobel Prize in Literature, presented by the President of France. This exquisite picture book biography concludes with a historical note that more fully explains Fabre’s methods, contributions, and influences on others (including Darwin); a reproduced photograph of Fabre with a hand written note from Darwin; and a timeline, author’s note, and sources.

For recommended biographies of some women scientists, check out Carli Spina’s post, “Women in STEM.”

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Richard Peck Talks with Roger | additional videos Tue, 19 Jul 2016 16:37:51 +0000 Richard Peck talks with Roger -- video edition

Sponsored by
Penguin Random House

Talks with Roger is a sponsored supplement to our free monthly e-newsletter, Notes from the Horn Book. To receive Notes, sign up here.

BestManThis is The Horn Book’s inaugural video edition of Talks with Roger, and we couldn’t have asked for a better subject than Richard Peck. We’ve included some text and video excerpts from Roger and Richard’s morning together at Peck’s Upper East Side apartment; the entire conversation can be found by clicking below.

Richard Peck Talks with Roger (full video)


Richard talks to readers about bullying


Richard talks with Roger about marriage

More on Richard Peck from The Horn Book


Sponsored byPenguin Random House

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Charlesbridge open house Tue, 19 Jul 2016 16:00:10 +0000 cbridge1

Paul A. Reynolds, author of Full STEAM Ahead!, talks with Cindy Ritter.

Thanks, Charlesbridge, for having us over to your house last week. It was fun to poke around your office in Watertown, MA; see original artwork (Gareth Hinds’s Samurai Rising cover art!); eat some snacks; catch up with friends and former interns; and hear from author Paul A. Reynolds (twin brother of and collaborator with Peter H.) about STEAM and the 4Cs, FableVision, and the new book series Sydney & Simon.

And who was the lovely and talented interviewer? Our good friend and former Horn Booker Cindy Ritter! Great job with the Qs, Cindy. We’re glad the Bay State lured you back from NYC.

Also, how did Charlesbridge’s editorial director Yolanda Scott find the time and energy to compete in — and win — a race that night?! We’ll have what she’s having.

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Review of As Brave As You Tue, 19 Jul 2016 15:00:07 +0000 reynolds_as brave as youstar2 As Brave As You
by Jason Reynolds
Intermediate, Middle School    Dlouhy/Atheneum    415 pp.
5/16    978-1-4814-1590-3​    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-1-4814-1592-7    $10.99

Reynolds (The Boy in the Black Suit, rev. 3/15; with Brendan Kiely, All American Boys, rev. 11/15) delivers an emotionally resonant middle-grade story of an African American family working to overcome its tumultuous past in hopes of a better future. Not-quite-teenager Genie Harris has a notebook full of questions, ranging from the superficial (“Why are swallows called swallows? did people used to eat them?”) to the introspective (“Why am I so stupid?”). But there is no question as to why he and his older brother Ernie find themselves far from their Brooklyn home with their Grandma and Grandpop in rural Virginia: their parents are “maybe/possibly/probably divorcing” and are “figuring it out” in Jamaica. Warmly told in the third person, the novel follows Genie through a series of tragicomic blunders (breaking a family heirloom; the inadvertent poisoning of Grandpop’s pet bird); minor triumphs (finding a neighbor with internet access!); and many heartfelt discussions with Grandpop, who is blind and fiercely independent, that often lead to startling familial revelations (his great-grandfather’s suicide; his uncle Wood’s untimely death during Desert Storm). Long-standing feelings of guilt, anger, and resentment reach a boiling point — and history appears to repeat itself — when Grandpop forces Ernie to shoot a gun, with unfortunate results. Genie musters up enough courage to ask his grandfather if he will ever let go of his tragic history; Grandpop’s response of “maybe” feels like a victory. A novel in the tradition of 
Curtis’s The Watsons Go to Birmingham — 1963 (rev. 3/96), with deft dialogue, 
Northern/Southern roots, and affecting depth.

From the July/August 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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