Review of A Certain October

a certain october

A Certain October by Angela Johnson High School     Simon     158 pp. 8/12     978-0-689-86505-3     $15.99     g e-book ed. 978-1-4424-1726-7     $9.99 At the start of the book, Scotty is an average high school junior living in East Cleveland. She hangs out with friends, makes plans for the homecoming dance, and avoids writing a book report on Anna […]

Review of This Is Not My Hat

This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

  This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen; illus. by the author Primary    Candlewick    40 pp. 10/12    978-0-7636-5599-0    $15.99    g The eyes have it in Klassen’s latest hat book (I Want My Hat Back, rev. 11/11). Klassen manages to tell almost the whole story through subtle eye movements and the tilt of seaweed and […]

Whitney and Me: Confessions of a Work-for-Hire Diva

Whitney Houston

I would call it a guilty pleasure if I felt guilty. But my subscription to People magazine actually liberates me. Instead of furtively flipping pages in the checkout line, hoping to find the photos of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s baby before it’s time to unload the hummus, I have Blue Ivy Carter (seven pounds) delivered, so […]

Reviews of Pirateria and Shiver Me Timbers!

Pirateria by Calef Brown

Pirateria: The Wonderful Plunderful 
Pirate Emporium by Calef Brown; illus. by the author Primary    Atheneum    40 pp. 7/12    978-1-4169-7878-7    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4424-3897-2    $12.99 Brown presents a book-length advertisement for an imaginary emporium of all things pirate. Whether you need rags or pantaloons, spinnakers or planks, you can be sure to find them at Pirateria. […]

Review of Penny and Her Doll

Penny and Her Doll by Kevin Henkes

Penny and Her Doll by Kevin Henkes; illus. by the author Primary    Greenwillow    32 pp. 8/12    978-0-06-208199-5    $12.99 Naming things, whether children, pets, or toys, is serious business, and in this follow-up to Penny and Her Song (rev. 3/12) Henkes doesn’t take that task lightly. Gram sends mouse Penny a doll: “The doll had pink […]

Review of Jangles: A Big Fish Story

Jangles: A Big Fish Story by David Shannon

Jangles: A Big Fish Story by David Shannon; 
illus. by the author Primary    Blue Sky/Scholastic    32 pp. 10/12    978-0-545-14312-7    $17.99    g Shannon takes the one-that-got-away story and spins it out into a big-fish tall tale as recounted by a father to his son. Jangles, the legendary trout of Big Lake, had “broken so many fishing […]

Core Publishing

Common Core State Standards Logo

You can sometimes feel like the Old Stage Manager in this job, watching ’em all come and go for their hour upon the stage. Big picture books, little picture books, good girls and bad girls, vampires, angels, fallen angels, books for boys, fantasy, and realism. The players have producers: not just publishers but also the […]

The Secret Garden’s Perennial Wisdom…for Parents

The Secret Garden

Every September of my English teaching career, I’d type up the semester’s reading list and prepare myself for the inevitable question: I’ve already read this! Why do I have to read it again? I’d tell my 
students that rereading a novel at a new period in their lives could bring fresh insight. But I never […]

Give ‘Em Helvetica: Picture Book Type

The Stinky Cheese Man

Type — the formal language of the printed word — speaks to us in mysterious ways. It’s not always clear just what type is saying, or how our reading experience is enhanced or undermined, however subtly, by slight variations in point size (the overall dimensions of the type), or the thickness and proportions of an […]

Judge Judy

judgejudy_featured

You are about to enter the courtroom of Judge Judy. The cases are real. The creatures are folkloric. The rulings are final. . CASE #10705: EVIL STEPSISTERS v. CINDERELLA Judge Judy: You two stepsisters are suing Cinderella and her prince because your feet were irrevocably damaged after trying on some shoes, correct? Evil Stepsister #1: […]