‘Til death do we part? The Undertaking of Lily Chen

novgorodoff_undertaking of lily chen

The Undertaking of Lily Chen (First Second, March 2014), Danica Novgorodoff’s latest graphic novel, begins with an excerpt from an article published by The Economist in 2007: Parts of rural China are seeing a burgeoning market for female corpses, the result of the reappearance of a strange custom called “ghost marriages.” Chinese tradition demands that […]

Choose your own teenage dream

clark_maybe tonight

The model made popular by the Choose Your Own Adventure middle-grade books comes to a teen audience in two new paperback series with massive appeal for reluctant-reader girls. Bridie Clark’s Snap Decision series, which debuted last summer with Maybe Tonight? (Roaring Brook, August 2013), places the reader in the driver’s seat to navigate life at […]

Anybody want a peanut?

obey1

We recently received the (adult) graphic novel biography Andre the Giant: Life and Legend by Box Brown (May 2014, First Second). As any Princess Bride fan will know, Andre the Giant is the professional-wrestler-turned-actor who played Fezzik in the movie. Born Andre Rene Roussimoff, he grew up in rural Molien, France, where he was too large […]

Winter crafts; or, know your audience

homebrew

It’s not unusual for the Horn Book to receive submissions from adult publishers, and we recently opened a box from Lark, an imprint of Sterling Publishing (whose children’s books we do review). Lark books are crafts books – beautifully produced, sturdy how-to paperbacks about sewing, crocheting, jewelry-making, flower-arranging, etc. Pretty Quilled Cards: 25+ Creative Designs […]

Rule-breakers and rising stars

reynolds_break these rules

Joining Rookie Yearbook Two (“HORMONES SUCK. But being a young person doesn’t always”) are two recent teen-centric anthologies, each with a different focus but both with teen appeal. Break These Rules: 35 YA Authors on Speaking Up, Standing Out, and Being Yourself, edited by Luke Reynolds (Chicago Review Press, September 2013), includes short-story anecdotes from […]

“HORMONES SUCK. But being a young person doesn’t always.”

rookie yearbook 2

Rookie, popular e-zine for teenage girls and brainchild of teen blogger Tavi Gevinson, has steadily garnered fans since its launch in 2011. With monthly issues, the site offers engaging, cutting-edge, easily browsable material. Rookie Yearbook Two (Drawn and Quarterly, October 2013), the second compilation of annual content, featuring goods from 2013, is just as vibrant […]

Leggo my LEGO

beautiful lego

In stylish coffee-table book Beautiful LEGO (No Starch Press, October 2013), “internationally acclaimed LEGO® artist” Mike Doyle showcases the work of dozens of his fellow artists from around the world. Elevating the preschool building toy to high art, this book’s gorgeous photographs of hundreds of LEGO sculptures are the draw here. The range of subject […]

Smugglers, secrets, and the Sasanach

cave of secrets

Combine the words “historical,” “fiction,” and “smugglers” in the same sentence, and most people immediately think of buccaneers and tropical seas. But as Morgan Llywelyn shows in Cave of Secrets (O’Brien Press/Dufour Editions, June 2013), smuggling was also a way of life for ordinary people living under British rule in seventeenth-century Ireland. Set in the […]

Evaluating nonfiction: At War with the Empire

at war with the empire

To better understand the criteria for judging children’s books, I started reading frequent Horn Book Magazine contributor Kathleen T. Horning‘s From Cover to Cover: Evaluating and Reviewing Children’s Books. In the second chapter, Horning considers “books of information.” Around the same time, author Gerry Hunt and illustrator Matthew Griffin’s graphic novel At War With the […]

Writing about writing

this is not a writing manual

Around the same time, two books about writing arrived at the Horn Book office. Always keen to brush up on my writing skills, I was curious to find out what advice these books would offer. As screamed from a large toothy mouth gracing the cover, This Is Not A Writing Manual is not a writing […]