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 [...]
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green High School Dutton 321 pp. 1/12 978-0-525-47881-2 $17.99 g I suppose this is a cancer book, but as its inimitable heroine Hazel would say, “It’s not a cancer book, because cancer books suck.” Evoking yet transcending such teen-illness classics as Paige Dixon’s May I Cross Your Golden [...]
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.
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett; illus. by Jon Klassen Primary Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins 40 pp. 1/12 978-0-06-195338-5 $16.99 g When young Annabelle (see p. 5) finds a small box containing yarn of every color, she does what any self-respecting knitter would do: she knits herself a sweater. Then she knits a sweater for her dog. [...]
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler; illus. by Maira Kalman High School Little, Brown 355 pp. 12/11 978-0-316-12725-7 $19.99 Min and Ed’s differences are profound–most obviously, she’s a quirky aspiring filmmaker and he’s a popular jock. Readers see immediately, though, that it’s not simply these practical differences that caused their breakup, the event on [...]
Bluefish by Pat Schmatz Middle School Candlewick 229 pp. 9/11 978-0-7636-5334-7 $15.99 e-book ed. 978-0-7636-5614-0 $15.99 “Stupid bluefish” Travis Roberts finds “lowlife trailer-trash loser” Vida “Velveeta” Wojciehowski in a lovely, understated book that celebrates the possibility of a kind and humane friendship between an eighth-grade girl and boy. Travis and Velveeta meet while both are [...]
Subway Story by Julia Sarcone-Roach; illus. by the author Primary Knopf 40 pp. 10/11 978-0-375-85859-8 $16.99 Library ed. 978-0-375-95859-5 $19.99 Sarcone-Roach displays a discipline not always seen in books about the environment; she allows her theme of reuse and recycling to emerge naturally from a fine story and lets readers draw their own conclusions without [...]
At Macy’s department store, marionette maker Tony Sarg started inside and worked his way out. He designed mechanical storybook figures for Macy’s window displays before inventing the giant balloon characters that would become the signature feature of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Sweet’s whimsical mixed-media collages, embellished with little dolls she made herself out of odds and ends, reinforce the theme that, for Sarg, work was play. He loved his job just as much as the cheering crowds loved his balloons (one of Sweet’s watercolor illustrations shows open-mouthed children fairly dancing with delight).
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson; illus. by the author Intermediate | Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins | 108 pp. 9/11 | 978-0-06-173074-0 | $19.99 “Most folks my age and complexion don’t speak much about the past,” begins the unnamed narrator of this graceful and personalized overview of African American history. But [...]
Starred reviews appearing in the September/October Horn Book Magazine: – The Haunted Hamburger and Other Ghostly Stories by David LaRochelle; illus. by Paul Meisel (Dutton) – A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka (Schwartz & Wade) – Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (Farrar) – Secrets at Sea by Richard Peck; illus. by Kelly [...]