Miss Agnes is back

Miss Agnes and the Ginger Tom by Kirkpatrick Hill

About eleven years ago, I fell in love with Miss Agnes. Kirkpatrick Hill’s The Year of Miss Agnes is one of my first-weeks-of-school read-aloud books. Miss Agnes’s loving but no-nonsense teaching methods inspire me every time I read it, which is just about every year. Now, more than a decade since that book was published, […]

Mash-up, indeed.

mega mash-up 1

In a sort of coloring book meets Diary of a Wimpy Kid meets Choose Your Own Adventure, Nosy Crow’s new Mega Mash-Up series by Nikalas Catlaw and Tim Wesson (December) combines marginally true information about, say, Roman gladiators, with dinosaurs (or, in another volume, aliens vs. mad scientists and—well, you get the idea) into an […]

Two weeks and counting…

hunger games illustrated companion

Now that March has finally arrived, we’re officially in the “T-minus” phase for The Hunger Games movie adaptation, hitting theaters on March 23. In anticipation, I’ve been perusing several pieces of fine literature, to wit: The Hunger Games: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion (Scholastic, February), Stars in the Arena: Meet the Hotties of The Hunger […]

Down on the farm

farm anatomy

As an urban twenty-something with a CSA farm share, a crush on Michael Pollan, and the occasional yearning to dangle tomato plants from my third-story apartment windows, I think a bit too much about where my food comes from. I often wonder how much of my insanity I will impart upon my future offspring. Will […]

The Silence of Our Friends

silence of our friends

With February over, it’s easy to switch mental gears: it’s March! Time to put the African American history books back on the shelf and pull together a women’s history display! But black history and women’s history are integral and ongoing parts of everyone’s history, and should be consistently represented in our curriculum and discourse. A […]

Story smorgasbord

YouChoose

“If you could go anywhere, where would you go?” The sky’s the limit in Nick Sharratt and Pippa Goodhart’s You Choose (Kane Miller, March), an interactive book (originally published in the U.K. in 2003) where kids call the shots in their own narrative. Sharratt’s bright and friendly cartoon illustrations invite readers into pages filled with […]

Ripperology: Saucy Jack is back

ripper petrucha

Jack the Ripper has been creeping into children’s literature recently: Gordon Korman included him in his 2011 Titanic trilogy (Scholastic). (Incorporating a Ripper mystery aboard the famed ship now marking the 100th anniversary of its sinking? That should sell a few books.) Last September saw the release of the first book in Maureen Johnson’s exciting […]

The Pocket Bible Doodle Book

pocket bible doodle book

A blurb on the back of The Pocket Bible Doodle Book (Zonderkidz/Zondervan, January) states, “The story of creation, Noah’s ark, the plagues, and more make this Bible-based collection of doodles fun for everyone.” I can’t decide if I should laugh or be offended—the plagues can be fun? Okay… As the daughter of a Lutheran pastor, […]

Those happy golden years

chigger

Raymond Bial, well-known author of nonfiction for children (Ellis Island: Coming to the Land of Liberty; Tenement: Immigrant Life on the Lower East Side; Amish Home; Frontier Home), has just published a novel, one “intended primarily for adults,” according to the promotional copy on the back of the (attractive) paperback. Set in small-town 1959 Indiana […]

“Magic most foul”?

darker still

I admit, with a subtitle like “A Novel of Magic Most Foul,” I had to resist the temptation to mock this book outright.  Thankfully, Leanna Renee Hieber’s novel Darker Still (Sourcebooks, November) offers a bit more substance than this melodramatic teaser of a subtitle. In it, Natalie Stewart, a mute Victorian-era teenager, chronicles the supernatural […]