Letter to the Editor from Martha Bennett Stiles, May/June 2013

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I was struck by Jon Klassen’s comment in discussing his delightful Boston Globe–Horn Book Award winner Extra Yarn: “In the stories we seem to remember most, we’re given a certain set of ingredients, and then we’re let loose to build on them and let them affect us.” Oh, yes. I remember finding that one of […]

Excerpt from The Chocolate Games

The Chocolate Games

“Hi, Mum! Hi, Pop!” Mike squeaks as he hops from the screen onto the table. “Look at me! I’m the first boy sent by television!” Mrs. Teavee shrieks. “You’re an inch tall! Oh, my sweet boy!” “Sweet?” Grandpa Joe whispers to me. “He blew Violet to bits!” True, Mike did chuck his flinty Everlasting Gobstopper […]

Review of We March

We March

We March by Shane W. Evans; 
illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Porter/Roaring Brook    32 pp. 1/12    978-1-59643-539-1    $16.99 Many young children know there was a march on Washington a long time ago and that Martin Luther King Jr. gave a famous speech that day. Some know why the march took place; fewer still know […]

Review of To the Mountaintop: My Journey Through the Civil Rights Movement

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To the Mountaintop: My Journey Through the Civil Rights Movement [New York Times Books] by Charlayne Hunter-Gault Middle School, High School    Flash Point/Roaring Brook    195 pp.    1/12    978-1-59643-605-3    $22.99 One of the first two students to successfully desegregate an all-white college in the South looks back at six pivotal years of the U.S. civil rights […]

Review of The Cabinet of Earths

The Cabinet of Earths

The Cabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet Intermediate    Harper/HarperCollins    260 pp. 1/12    978-0-06-196313-1    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-0-06-209919-8    $8.99 “Well! It is better to read fairy tales than to find yourself caught in them,” Nesbet’s narrator declares, a predictor of what is to be found in the subsequent pages — for Nesbet’s story is a-shimmer with […]

Review of And Then It’s Spring

And-Then-Its-Spring

And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano; 
illus. by Erin E. Stead Primary    Porter/Roaring Brook    32 pp. 2/12    978-1-59643-624-4    $16.99 A small bespectacled boy and his companions, a dog, a rabbit, and a turtle, are on a search for spring. “First you have brown, / all around you have brown / then there are seeds […]

Review of The One and Only Ivan

One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate; 
illus. by Patricia Castelao Intermediate    Harper/HarperCollins    305 pp. 1/12    978-0-06-199225-4    $16.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-06-210198-3    $9.99 “I am Ivan. I am a gorilla. / It’s not as easy as it looks.” In short chapters (the book has an open layout and frequent illustrations) that have the look […]

Review of 10 Hungry Rabbits

10 Hungry Rabbits

10 Hungry Rabbits: Counting & Color Concepts by Anita Lobel; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Knopf    24 pp. 2/12    978-0-375-86864-1    $9.99 Library ed.  978-0-375-96864-8    $12.99    g When Mama Rabbit announces her plans to make vegetable soup for dinner, her ten children—each one wearing a different color—gather ten matching colorful ingredients: one purple cabbage, two […]

What Makes a Good Rock-and-Roll Book?

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Every time critics and writers declare rock-and-roll dead, it rises again; re-tuned, rebranded, and repackaged for a new generation. Signs of life abound: Green Day’s Gen Y suburban angst, captured in their mini rock opera American Idiot, has sold 14 million copies internationally and became a smash adaptation for the Broadway stage. Folk singer Elizabeth […]

Review of Little Dog Lost: The True Story of a Brave Dog Named Baltic

little dog lost

An edge-of-your-seat adventure story, based on a true story, for the very young—with a text that also works beautifully as a beginning reader for older children. Onlookers along the banks of the Vistula River one cold, cold day in Poland see a little dog adrift on a sheet of ice, heading for open sea. Night passes, then another day; finally, fifteen miles from shore and seventy-five miles from journey’s start, he is spotted by the crew of the research vessel Baltica and, with significant effort, rescued. Simple yet dramatic watercolor illustrations effectively convey the wintry setting; the ice-choked, freezing water; and Dog’s emotions, bewildered and forlorn on the ice, cheerful and contented after his rescue and adoption. The economical text is hyper-engaging. A straightforward descriptive narration (“Dog is wet and tired and hungry. And he is scared”) occasionally switches to the voice of an emotionally involved onlooker (“Don’t be scared, Dog! A ship is coming!”; “Dog slips. He falls into the water. Oh no! Where is Dog?”), as if the text itself finds the story too exciting to maintain objectivity. An afterword fills in some gaps, with more details of the actual rescue and its happy aftermath.