Ever wonder if it makes sense to join SCBWI? Wonder who belongs, is it really beneficial to belong? What is it anyway?
(Introducing the wonderful SCBWI staff!)
SCBWI’s mission is to support the creation and availability of quality children’s books around the world. They accomplish this by fostering a vibrant community of individuals who bring books for young readers to the public including writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, agents, librarians, educators, booksellers, bloggers, enthusiasts and others. They provide education and support for these individuals through awards, grants, programs and events. They strive to increase the quality and quantity of children’s books in the marketplace, and act as a consolidated voice for professional writers and illustrators worldwide.
Being part of the SCBWI’s brand new Bookstore Building Team, I had a blast entering authors into the bookstore data base, researching their books, finding wonderful reviews, adding trailers and buy links. It’s been so cool I decided to blog a sampling of who and what you’ll find when you head over to the new SCBWI website
Now, Let’s Crash the new website & Bookstore Gate.
Check out the AMAZINGNESS that is SCBWI!
The members showcased here were picked at random from a compilation of folks that I think are among the most awesome of awesome! I’ll introduce you to their books. You can learn all about them at SCBWI.org!
Click the pics for writerly links.
In award-winning artist Jerry Pinkney’s wordless adaptation of one of Aesop’s most beloved fables, an unlikely pair learn that no act of kindness is ever wasted. After a ferocious lion spares a cowering mouse that he’d planned to eat, the mouse later comes to his rescue, freeing him from a poacher’s trap. With vivid depictions of the landscape of the African Serengeti and expressively-drawn characters, Pinkney makes this a truly special retelling, and his stunning pictures speak volumes.
Review* “Pinkney enriches this classic tale of friendship with another universal theme – family – affectingly illustrated in several scenes as well as in the back endpapers… African species grace splendid panoramas that balance the many finely detailed, closeup images of the protagonists. Pinkney has no need for words; his art speaks eloquently for itself.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)
* “A nearly wordless exploration of Aesop’s fable of symbiotic mercy that is nothing short of masterful… Unimpeachable.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)
* “Pinkney’s luminous art, rendered in watercolor and colored pencil, suggests a natural harmony… The ambiguity that results from the lack of words in this version allows for a slower, subtle, and ultimately more satisfying read. Moments of humor and affection complement the drama. A classic tale from a consummate artist.” (School Library Journal, starred review)
* “By retelling Aesop’s fable entirely in his signature pencil and watercolor art, Pinkney encourages closer exploration of the pleasing detail with which he amplifies it… It will be a challenge for libraries to make every gorgeous surface available, but it’s a challenge worth taking on.” (The Horn Book, starred review)
Daniel Funk always wanted a brother, but he’s got three sisters instead. Until he shrinks to the size of a toe—and discovers Pablo, his twin brother who’s always that small! Together, they have mountains of tiny-size fun. In Attack of the Growling Eyeballs, they release a hissing cockroach at one of their sister’s slumber party and learn that tiny-size trouble can cause mega-size danger. In Escape of the Mini-Mummy, Daniel enters the school diorama contest against Vince the Pizza Prince. Pablo comes along, disguised as a toilet-papered mummy. Can Pablo help Daniel win big, or will he create big-time Egyptian chaos?
The second in the “Who Shrunk Daniel Funk?” series is laugh-out-loud funny. While it is never really explained why Daniel shrinks or how he discovered his toe-size twin Pablo, this book is an entertaining read that will appeal to reluctant readers. Aside from his shrinking problem, Daniel Funk is a typical boy dealing with a bully at school and six females at home. Daniel and his best friend Vu enter the class diorama contest for a chance to win tickets to a Los Angeles Lakers basketball game. Their portrayal of King Tut’s tomb becomes very realistic when tiny Pablo wraps himself in toilet paper to pose as a mummy guard. Chaos ensues when Pablo disappears only to reappear on Vince the Bully’s microphone as Vince does his presentation on the history of pizza. The results are hilarious and satisfying. Not to be missed are the “Funkster’s Funky Facts” that appear at the beginning of each chapter. Reviewer: Shirley Nelson
Davey has never felt so alone in her life. Her father is dead—shot in a holdup—and now her mother is moving the family to New Mexico to try to recover.
Climbing in the Los Alamos canyon, Davey meets the mysterious Wolf, who can read Davey’s “sad eyes.” Wolf is the only person who seems to understand the rage and fear Davey feels.
Slowly, with Wolf’s help, Davey realizes that she must get on with her life. But when will she be ready to leave the past behind and move toward the future? Will she ever stop hurting?
Gr 7 Up—The most remarkable thing about Judy Blume’s book (Atheneum, 1982) is how well it has stood the test of time-it’s as relevant today as it was 30 years ago. This is the story of 15-year-old Davey who finds her father shot during a hold-up in his store. Davey and her mother have trouble coping with their violent loss, but when Davey begins to have panic attacks in school, her mother decides to move the family temporarily to Los Alamos, New Mexico, to stay with relatives. Living with her overly strict aunt and uncle makes Davey angry. When her mother starts dating, Davey is furious that her father could be forgotten so swiftly. Davey and her mother are both deep in the grieving process but working through it in very different ways. Too young to work, Davey volunteers at the hospital where she meets an elderly man dying of cancer. When she meets the man’s son, their friendship and common sense of loss helps Davey begin to heal. Emma Galvin’s narration perfectly voices Davey’s escalating emotions and teen angst. A well-told and well-performed story.—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
A mysterious island.
An abandoned orphanage.
A strange collection of very curious photographs.
It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.
“With its X-Men: First Class-meets-time-travel story line, David Lynchian imagery, and rich, eerie detail, it’s no wonderMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children has been snapped up by Twentieth Century Fox. B+”—Entertainment Weekly “‘Peculiar’ doesn’t even begin to cover it. Riggs’ chilling, wondrous novel is already headed to the movies.”—People “[A] thrilling, Tim Burton-esque tale with haunting photographs.”—USA Today Pop Candy “Readers searching for the next Harry Potter may want to visit Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.”—CNN
“You’ll love it if you want a good thriller for the summer. It’s a mystery, and you’ll race to solve it before Jacob figures it out for himself.”—Seventeen
“Riggs deftly moves between fantasy and reality, prose and photography to create an enchanting and at times positively terrifying story.”—Associated Press
“It’s an enjoyable, eccentric read, distinguished by well-developed characters, a believable Welsh setting, and some very creepy monsters.”— Publishers Weekly “An original work that defies categorization, this first novel should appeal to readers who like quirky fantasies. Riggs includes many vintage photographs that add a critical touch of the peculiar to his unusual tale.”—Library Journal
“Readers will find this book unique and intriguing.”— School Library Journal
“In a time when so much summer entertainment seems to be more of the same, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a pleasant surprise—a story that is fresh and new, engrosses and grips, and provides enough clues so that the ending makes sense and seems thoughtful.” —Popmatters.com
“Brace yourself for the last 70 pages of relentless, squirm-in-your-chair action. I loved every minute of it.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Though technically a children’s book, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is more Grimm’s than Disney, and Riggs images, dropped like bread crumbs, could lead audiences of any age happily down the path of its spellbinding tale.”—Florida Times-Union
“Hands down, this is one of the best books of recent years…both creepy and terrifyingly delicious.”—Forces of Geek
Best friends Matt and Larry “Craz” Crazinski couldn’t be more different. Matt loves order, while Craz lives on the edge. The boys share a passion for cartooning, but thanks to the school paper gatekeeper (and kind-of bully), Skip Turkle, it seems their cartoons will never be published.
But then the boys discover a pen that promises to help them DRAW BETTER NOW!—and quickly realize it’s no ordinary pen: Whatever they draw comes to life!
They start small with their drawings—bags of cash, cool gadgets. Next, they get their pesky English teacher to take a unique and extended vacation. But when the boys get a little bolder in their magical drawings, they realize that things don’t always end up as perfect as the art they create….
In this funny, slightly zany, and ultimately heartwarming story, Sid Fleischman Award–winner Alan Silberberg demonstrates the power of friendship—and that the best life is not always sketched out in advance.
Review“Silberberg delivers one heck of a giggle-producing read with a healthy dose of heart.”– Quill & Quire
“It’s like ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ produced by Sid & Marty Krofft…The jokes almost always work, and that’s a more important brand of magic any day.”– Kirkus
“There’s plenty to chuckle at…”– Publisher’s Weekly
Joel’s best friend, Tony, is a daredevil. It was Tony’s idea to make the long bike ride to
the Starved Rock state park, and Tony’s idea to stop for a swim in the dangerous Vermillion
River. So why does Joel feel so much guilt when tragedy strikes?
The paperback features a beautiful new cover and introduction by Katherine Paterson,
author of the Newbery Medal–winning book Bridge to Terabithia.
“A powerful, soul-stirring novel told simply and well.” —Booklist, ALA, Starred Review
“Descriptions are vivid, characterization and dialogue natural, and the style taut but unforced. A powerful, moving book.” —School Library Journal
“While there is death, there is also love, and Bauer’s honest and gripping novel joins the ranks of such as Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia in its handling of these issues.” —Publisher’s Weekly
Gail Carson Levine
How can a fairy’s blessing be such a curse?
At her birth, Ella of Frell was given a foolish fairy’s gift—the “gift” of obedience. Ella must obey any order given to her, whether it’s hopping on one foot for a day or chopping off her own head!
But strong-willed Ella does not tamely accept her fate. She goes on a quest, encountering ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, fairy godmothers, and handsome princes, determined to break the curse—and live happily ever after.
Review“As finely designed as a tapestry, with a heroine so spirited that she wins readers’ hearts.” (ALA Booklist (starred review))
“A thoroughly enchanting novel that deepens and enriches the original tale.” (School Library Journal (starred review))
For Hank, fourth grade does not start out on the right foot. First of all, he gets called to the principal’s office on the very first day of school. Then the first assignment his teacher gives him is to write five paragraphs on “What You Did This Summer.” Hank is terrified-writing one good sentence is hard for him, so how in the world is he going to write five whole paragraphs? Hank comes up with a plan: instead of writing what he did on vacation, he’ll show what he did. But when Hank’s “living essay” becomes a living disaster, he finds himself in detention. Strangely enough, however, detention ends up becoming a turning point in his life.
ReviewGrade 3-5-On the first day of fourth grade, Hank’s teacher assigns a five-paragraph essay, “What I did on my summer vacation,” and he knows he’s in trouble. It has always been difficult for him to read, write, and spell so he decides to “build” his assignment instead-to “-bring Niagara Falls into the classroom, water and all.” With the help of his friends, he creates a working model, complete with water pump, Saran-wrapped tubing, and a papier-mƒch‚ mountain. Predictably, his “living essay” comes to an unfortunate end when a leak leads to a flood and chaos in the classroom. Hank’s creativity is rewarded with two weeks’ detention and grounding, but his friends are counting on his help for their upcoming magic show. Just when the boy’s self-esteem is at its lowest, the new music teacher suspects that he has “learning differences” and suggests that he be tested. Eventually, the misunderstood protagonist convinces his parents to let him perform in the show, which is a big hit, largely thanks to Hank’s ingenuity. Less dysfunctional and outrageous than Joey Pigza, Hank Zipzer is the kid next door. Humor, magic, a school bully, a pet dachshund named Cheerio, and a pet iguana that slurps soup at dinner add up to a fun novel with something for everyone. Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools
Jonas’s world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear of pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. When Jonas turns 12 he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.
School Library JournalGrade 6-9– In a complete departure from her other novels, Lowry has written an intriguing story set in a society that is uniformly run by a Committee of Elders. Twelve-year-old Jonas’s confidence in his comfortable “normal” existence as a member of this well-ordered community is shaken when he is assigned his life’s work as the Receiver. The Giver, who passes on to Jonas the burden of being the holder for the community of all memory “back and back and back,” teaches him the cost of living in an environment that is “without color, pain, or past.” The tension leading up to the Ceremony, in which children are promoted not to another grade but to another stage in their life, and the drama and responsibility of the sessions with The Giver are gripping. The final flight for survival is as riveting as it is inevitable. The author makes real abstract concepts, such as the meaning of a life in which there are virtually no choices to be made and no experiences with deep feelings. This tightly plotted story and its believable characters will stay with readers for a long time. –Amy Kellman, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Arthur A Levine
”Levine and Scheiber tell two tales about poor kids growing up in the Bronx — one inspires, the other rips your heart out. They also compel us to recognize that educational failure has both individual and societal costs that can be fatal. We can and must do better.” –Joel Klein, Chancellor, New York City Department of Education
Review”A compelling and worthwhile book, especially for those who teach in inner-city schools.” –Education Update, Sep/Oct 2010
”The decline of the South Bronx is made personal through the opposing biographies of parallel children 40 years apart.” –CHOICE Magazine
”The decline of the South Bronx is made personal through the opposing biographies of parallel children 40 years apart.” –CHOICE Magazine
Simply told, grandly shown, here is the flight of Apollo 11. Here for a new generation of readers and explorers are the steady astronauts, clicking themselves into gloves and helmets, strapping themselves into sideways seats. Here are their great machines in all their detail and monumentality, the ROAR of rockets, and the silence of the Moon. Here is a story of adventure and discovery — a story of leaving and returning during the summer of 1969, and a story of home, seen whole, from far away.
From Booklist*Starred Review* Forty years after NASA’s Apollo 11 mission first landed astronauts on the moon, this striking nonfiction picture book takes young readers along for the ride. The moon shines down on Earth, where three men don spacesuits, climb into Columbia, and wait for liftoff. On a nearby beach, people gather to watch the rocket blast the astronauts into space. The astronauts fly to the moon, circle it, land on it, walk on its surface, and see “the good and lonely Earth, glowing in the sky.” After flying back to the orbiter, they return to Earth and splash down, “home at last.” An appended note discusses the mission in greater detail. Written with quiet dignity and a minimum of fuss, the main text is beautifully illustrated with line-and-wash artwork that provides human interest, technological details, and some visually stunning scenes. The book’s large format offers plenty of scope for double-page illustrations, and Floca makes the most of it, using the sequential nature of picture books to set up the more dramatic scenes and give them human context. The moving image of Earth seen from the moon, for instance, is preceded by a picture of a lone astronaut looking up. A handsome, intelligent book with a jacket that’s well-nigh irresistible. Grades K-3. –Carolyn Phelan
When Jeremy Thatcher stumbles into Mr. Elives’ magic shop, he leaves with a small marbled dragon’s egg. When it hatches, Jeremy’s wildest dreams take wing.
“A funny, enjoyable, imaginative story whose serious undercurrents lend it unexpected depth.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Not only is the story involving but the reader can really get a feeling for Jeremy as a person.”—VOYA
“Will bring laughter and near tears to readers . . . Dragons really exist for a little while.”—School Library Journal
When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder—much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing—not even a smear of blood—to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?
This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…
Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare’s ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.
Review“Funny, dark, and sexy. One of my favorite books.” — Holly Black“City of Bones has everything: vampires, werewolves, faeries, true love, and stuff that blows up. What’s more, Clare’s characters are brilliant — she better not kill any of them off in the next two volumes!” — Justine Larbalestier, author of Magic or Madness“Prepare to be hooked.”
(Entertainment Weekly)“Wildly popular…think Twilight on steroids.”
(EXTRA)“This version of New York, full of Buffyesque teens who are trying to save the world, is entertaining and will have fantasy readers anxiously awaiting the next book in the series.”
(School Library Journal)“Lush and fun.”
Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson is on his way to visit his father when the single-engine plane in which he is flying crashes. Suddenly, Brian finds himself alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but a tattered Windbreaker and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present — and the dreadful secret that has been tearing him apart since his parent’s divorce. But now Brian has no time for anger, self pity, or despair — it will take all his know-how and determination, and more courage than he knew he possessed, to survive.
For twenty years Gary Paulsen’s award-winning contemporary classic has been the survival story with which all others are compared. This new edition, with a reading group guide, will introduce a new generation of readers to this page-turning, heart-stopping adventure.
Review“This is a spellbinding account…a winner.” – Kirkus Reviews, starred review“Riveting.” – Booklist, starred review
ReviewChicago Tribune, June 27, 2012:
“Hartland deftly portrays in both word and drawing the awkward grace, the passionate personality and the spunky gusto of her subject. At times, you can practically hear Julia’s trademark trill leaping cheerily out of the pages.”
New York Times, June 15, 2012:
“…bursting with exuberant urban-naïf gouache paintings and a hand-lettered text that somehow manages to recount every second of Child’s life.”
Boston Globe, August 14, 2012:
“Author Jessie Hartland chronicles Child’s rise to fame in a unique way. The book has the look and feel of a scrapbook, with handwritten text and numerous doodles that make it a fun read.”
Epicurious.com, July 13, 2012:
“Visually, it’s just delightful; Hartland captures the boundless energy, the joie de vivre that I imagine Julia exuded in person. And just in time for Bastille Day, there’s a crêpe recipe for you to try.”
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, March 19, 2012:
“Chef and TV personality Julia Child likely would have delighted in and hooted over this wide-ranging picture-book biography…. Readers young and old will devour this fête pour les yeux.”
Starred Review, Booklist, July 1, 2012:
“…achieves a feel that is a perfect match for Child’s personality and cooking style: exuberant, messy, gangly, and charming.”
School Library Journal, May 2012:
“Books for young foodies are very popular, and this is one that any library embracing the trend should have…Hartland’s style makes for a quick but informative read that portrays Child as a fascinating, groundbreaking, but still grounded person. Children interested in food and cooking will get a lot out of the book.”
Ana loves stories. She often makes them up to help her little brother fall asleep. But in her small village there are only a few books and she has read them all. One morning, Ana wakes up to the clip-clop of hooves, and there before her, is the most wonderful sight: a traveling library resting on the backs of two burros-all the books a little girl could dream of, with enough stories to encourage her to create one of her own. Inspired by the heroic efforts of real-life librarian Luis Soriano, award-winning picture book creators Monica Brown and John Parra introduce readers to the mobile library that journeys over mountains and through valleys to bring literacy and culture to rural Colombia, and to the children who wait for the BiblioBurro. A portion of the proceeds from sales of this book support Luis Soriano’s BiblioBurro program.
ReviewReview, School Library Journal, June 1, 2011
“The pleasure and love of reading are joyfully brought forth in this simple, happily rendered tale.”
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2011
“Parra’s colorful folk-style illustrations of acrylics on board bring Ana’s real and imaginary worlds to life…The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and “iii-aah” adding to the fun.”
Review, Publishers Weekly, May 9, 2011
“Parra’s naïve-styled acrylics brim with scenes of country life. A palette of salmon pinks and turquoise and sky blues, painted on board, give the book a rough-hewn, handmade quality and an innocent, childlike appeal (with her wide face, delicate features, and rouged cheeks, Ana even resembles a porcelain doll). In a metafictional ending, readers will notice that the book Ana hands the bibliotecario upon his return is this very book–fitting, as this truly is Ana’s story.”
Review, The Horn Book, July/August 2011
“This sample of the impact of traveling librarians on rural children, inspired by a Colombian teacher-librarian, not only celebrates their work but eloquently portrays a matchless way to inspire learning: by feeding the natural hunger for story….Small, brown-faced Ana’s enthusiasm is contagious, and the satisfying denouement, in which she donates her homemade book to the traveling collection, is just right.”
“This honest and heartfelt look at elementary school is illustrated with occasional doodles that perfectly suit the book and audience.” —Kidsville News
“Justin Case, the new novel by Rachel Vail, might well be subtitled the wit and wisdom of a third-grade worrywart. By turns droll, sardonic, ironic, and even sophisticated, it chronicles the daily tribulations of life in the third-grade as told by its eponymous hero, who in the course of his school year discovers there is no heroism unless there is fear. And fear Justin has a-plenty, be it of his new dog Qwerty, his new teacher, sports, math, friends, jiggly Jell-O—or what ever—a lot comes his way, real and imagined. The writing is sharp, unpredictably clever, and establishes third-grade as a mine-field of the absurd–which is to say, real life.”—Avi, Newbery Medalist
“Vail employs easy, direct language in a rhythm and syntax that captures the essence of a charming, lovable and very believable boy. Readers transitioning to longer fiction will groan, sympathize and laugh out loud in delight. Absolutely marvelous. ” —Kirkus Reviews, STARRED review
a Yarn, a Caldecott Honor Book, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner, and a New York Timesbestseller, is the story of how a young girl and her box of magical yarn transform a community.
With spare, gently humorous illustrations and a palette that moves from black-and-white to a range of color, this modern fairy tale has the feel of a new classic.
Extra Yarn is written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen, who also won a Caldecott Medal forThis Is Not My Hat.
Review“There’s nothing to say but—perfect.” (Lane Smith, New York Times bestselling author of It’s a Book)
“Understated illustrations and prose seamlessly construct an enchanting and mysterious tale.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review)) “Klassen’s deadpan, stylized illustrations impeccably complement Barnett’s quirky droll writing.” (School Library Journal (starred review))
“Klassen’s pacing, especially the mostly wordless sequence when the box floats back to Annabelle on a triangle of an iceberg, is impeccable. The final spread, all light and yarn-covered tree limbs, brings Barnett’s clever, quiet yarn full circle, to a little girl and a town, now colorful and happy.” (Horn Book (starred review))
“Reading like a droll fairy tale, this Barnett-Klassen collaboration is both seamless and magical. The spare, elegant text and art are also infused with plenty of deadpan humor. Quirky and wonderful, this story quietly celebrates a child’s ingenuity and her ability to change the world around her.” (Booklist (starred review))
Look up in the sky! It’s a BOLD new graphic novel about SUPERHERO PETS!
Captain Amazing, superhero and savior of Metro City, is getting old. He’s out all hours battling arch-villains, catching thieves, and helping little old ladies cross the street. He doesn’t even have time for his house full of pets. He needs – a SIDEKICK!
Captain Amazing’s four pets agree. But each one of them thinks HE should get the sidekick spot – and a chance for one-on-one time with the Captain. Get ready for sibling rivalry royale as pets with superpowers duke it out for the one thing they all want – a super family.
A veritable bonanza of capes, heroes and pets with superpowers abounds in illustrator Santat’s first solo graphic novel. Captain Amazing, the muscled hero of Metro City, is aging, and after a botched takedown of four nefarious villains, he decides he is in need of a trusty sidekick. Unbeknownst to Captain, his own pets are clamoring for the job (and for more quality time with their beloved owner). Fluffy, his hamster, has yet to discover his superpower, but this rodent has a lot of heart. Manny the cat (who has the ability to electrocute bad guys) had run away after his beloved toy Nummers went missing, but the prodigal cat returns just in time to help the Captain. Roscoe (a.k.a. Metal Mutt) has a gruff exterior but is fiercely loyal. Shifty, the newest addition to the family, is a color-changing chameleon who adds a dose of comic relief. The lovable menagerie of crime-fighting pets offers lots of laughs and a boisterous and exuberant storyline; Santat’s illustrations are clear, engaging and neatly stacked into easy-to-read panels. While there is no mention of a sequel, subsequent volumes would certainly fly off the shelf faster than a speeding bullet, so here’s hoping. A vibrant volume sure to zoom, pow and swoosh its way into the hands (and hearts) of young superhero fans. Extremely entertaining. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)
One day when Nelson Mandela was nine years old, his father died and he was sent from his village to a school far away from home, to another part of South Africa. In Johannesburg, the country’s capital, Mandela saw fellow Africans who were poor and powerless. He decided then that he would work to protect them. When the government began to keep people apart based on the color of their skin, Mandela spoke out against the law and vowed to fight hard in order to make his country a place that belonged to all South Africans.
Kadir Nelson tells the story of Mandela, a global icon, in poignant verse and glorious illustrations. It is the story of a young boy’s determination to change South Africa and of the struggles of a man who eventually became the president of his country by believing in equality for people of all colors. Readers will be inspired by Mandela’s triumph and his lifelong quest to create a more just world.
Review“A beautifully designed book that will resonate with children and the adults who wisely share it with them.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“An extremely powerful picture-book biography of South Africa’s first black president. It’s a solid biography in its own right, but thanks to Nelson’s characteristically stunning paintings, it soars.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“A dramatic encounter indeed.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)
“This picture-book biography matches Mandela’s outsize achievements with large, powerful images, resulting in a presentation that will seize and hold readers’ attention.” (School Library Journal)
Caitlin has Asperger’s. The world according to her is black and white; anything in between is confusing. Before, when things got confusing, Caitlin went to her older brother, Devon, for help. But Devon has died, and Caitlin’s dad is so distraught that he is just not helpful. Caitlin wants everything to go back to the way things were, but she doesn’t know how to do that. Then she comes across the word closure- and she realizes this is what she needs. And in her search for it, Caitlin discovers that the world may not be black and white after all.
Virginia author Kathryn Erskine takes the reader into the world of Caitlin, a girl with Asperger’s syndrome, as she struggles to understand the death of her older brother. Caitlin finds it much easier to “read” dictionaries than people; and in the course of regular meetings with her school counselor, she tries to learn social skills that will enable her to connect with others. She also wants to help her grieving father and the community to achieve “Closure” in the aftermath of the school shooting that took her brother’s life. In Erskine’s capable hands, Caitlin emerges as a wholly believable, admirable hero as she forges a unique path to friendship and healing. A lovely, important book. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum
Laurie Halse Anderson
Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in fragile bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the thinnest. But then Cassie suffers the ultimate loss-her life-and Lia is left behind, haunted by her friend’s memory and racked with guilt for not being able to help save her. In her most powerfully moving novel since Speak, award-winning author Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s struggle, her painful path to recovery, and her desperate attempts to hold on to the most important thing of all: hope.
From School Library JournalStarred Review. Grade 8 Up—The intensity of emotion and vivid language here are more reminiscent of Anderson’s Speak (Farrar, 1999) than any of her other works. Lia and Cassie had been best friends since elementary school, and each developed her own style of eating disorder that leads to disaster. Now 18, they are no longer friends. Despite their estrangement, Cassie calls Lia 33 times on the night of her death, and Lia never answers. As events play out, Lia’s guilt, her need to be thin, and her fight for acceptance unravel in an almost poetic stream of consciousness in this startlingly crisp and pitch-perfect first-person narrative. The text is rich with words still legible but crossed out, the judicious use of italics, and tiny font-size refrains reflecting her distorted internal logic. All of the usual answers of specialized treatment centers, therapy, and monitoring of weight and food fail to prevail while Lia’s cleverness holds sway. What happens to her in the end is much less the point than traveling with her on her agonizing journey of inexplicable pain and her attempt to make some sense of her life.—Carol A. Edwards, Denver Public Library
Michael K. just started fifth grade at a new school. As if that wasn’t hard enough, the kids he seems to have made friends with apparently aren’t kids at all. They are aliens. Real aliens who have invaded our planet in the form of school children and a hamster. They have a mission to complete: to convince 3,140,001 kids to BE SPHDZ.
But with a hamster as their leader, “kids” who talk like walking advertisements, and Michael K as their first convert, will the SPHDZ be able to keep their cover and pull off their assignment?
From School Library JournalGr 3-5–Michael’s first day in fifth grade is not going well. A new school is bad enough, but the teacher has partnered him with two extremely weird kids. Bob and Jennifer tell Michael that they are Spaceheadz from another planet and that they need his help to save the world. They explain that Earth is in danger of being turned off, depriving the interstellar civilizations of our tasty TV and radio waves. Led by Major Fluffy, the class hamster and mission commander, they must recruit 3.14 million (+1) Earthling brainwaves to join in one giant SPHDZ wave to keep the planet online. However, Agent Umber of the secretive Anti-Alien Agency is on their trail. Umber, the most inept spy since Maxwell Smart, hopes that Michael can lead him to the ETs. Michael wants to save the Earth–but does that mean helping the Spaceheadz or turning them in? As in Scieskza’s “Time Warp Trio” series (Viking), comically twisted contemporary cultural references abound. The young aliens speak primarily in TV advertising slogans, which fit remarkably–and hilariously–into the dialogue. Real commercial products, from George Foreman grills to Charmin™ toilet tissue, are put to exotic extraterrestrial uses. The intriguing book design includes chapter headings in English and SPHDZ characters, occasional white-on-black pages, and SPHDZ “stickers” scattered throughout the text. The black-and-white cartoon illustrations are often integrated into the text layout, giving the book a graphic-novel feel. Four creative, well-designed websites contribute important information to the story. Science-fiction fans with a taste for off-the-wall humor will be eager to join the SPHDZ movement.Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL
Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult–also known as “The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.” When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer–if he doesn’t catch her first.
From School Library JournalGr 10 Up-Set in 1920s New York City, this literary tour-de-force from Printz Award-winner Bray offers grand themes, complex characters, and suspense. After her secret gift for divining information from objects lands her in trouble, 17-year-old Evangeline O’Neill is sent from Ohio to live with her uncle, who runs a museum specializing in folklore and the occult in Manhattan. Evie is a quintessential flapper: not really bad, but rebellious and yearning to fly free of her Babbitt-like existence. Although she starts out her new life like the party girl she was back home, her pursuits become more serious when her uncle is asked to help solve a series of strange murders. She crosses paths with Memphis Campbell, a black numbers runner in Harlem, whose power to heal by laying on hands failed him when he tried to save his mother. Other characters include a homosexual composer who meets people in dreams, a Ziegfeld girl with a past, a pickpocket searching for his family, and a young research assistant with his own secrets. Bray develops each of these characters and their gifts, gradually bringing them together in a chilling and thrilling battle with Naughty John, a paranormal serial killer. Over the course of the novel, people (mainly good) smoke, drink, and use other illegal substances. These peccadilloes are contrasted with the values of the hellfire-and-brimstone cult that spawned Naughty John. The compelling and dramatic supernatural plot explores self-actualization, predestination, the secrets everyone hides, and, of course, good versus evil. An absolutely terrific read and, thankfully, the first in a planned series.-Nina Sachs, Walker Memorial Library, Westbrook, ME
Linda Sue Park
In this Newbery Medal-winning book set in 12th century Korea, Tree-ear, a 13-year-old orphan, lives under a bridge in Ch’ulp’o, a potters’ village famed for delicate celadon ware. He has become fascinated with the potter’s craft; he wants nothing more than to watch master potter Min at work, and he dreams of making a pot of his own someday. When Min takes Tree-ear on as his helper, Tree-ear is elated — until he finds obstacles in his path: the backbreaking labor of digging and hauling clay, Min’s irascible temper, and his own ignorance. But Tree-ear is determined to prove himself — even if it means taking a long, solitary journey on foot to present Min’s work in the hope of a royal commission . . . even if it means arriving at the royal court with nothing to show but a single celadon shard.
ReviewPark (Seesaw Girl) molds a moving tribute to perseverance and creativity in this finely etched novel set in mid-to-late 12th century Korea. . . Readers will not soon forget these characters or their sacrifices. Publishers Weekly, Starred
” Intrigues, danger and the same strong focus on doing what is right turn a simple story into a compelling read. . . Tree-ear’s story conveys a time and place far away and long ago, but with a simplicity and immediacy that is both graceful and unpretentious. A timeless jewel.” Kirkus Reviews with Pointers
Like Park’s Seesaw Girl and the Kite Fighters, this book not only gives readers insight an unfamilar time and place, but it is also a great story. School Library Journal, Starred
This quiet, but involving story draws readers into a very different time and place. Though the society has its own conventions, the hearts and minds and stomachs of the characters are not so far removed from those of people today. Readers will feel the hunger and cold that Tree-ear experiences, as well as his shame, fear, gratitude, and love. A well-crafted novel with an unusual setting. Booklist, ALA, Starred Review
Park’s story is alive with fascinating information about life and art in ancient Korea. Horn Book Guide
A broken piece of pottery sets events in motion as an orphan struggles to pay off his debt to a master potter. This finely crafted novel brings 12th-century Korea and these indelible characters to life. SLJ Best Books of the Year
ucy Beck-Moreau once had a promising future as a concert pianist. The right people knew her name, her performances were booked months in advance, and her future seemed certain.That was all before she turned fourteen.Now, at sixteen, it’s over. A death, and a betrayal, led her to walk away. That leaves her talented ten-year-old brother, Gus, to shoulder the full weight of the Beck-Moreau family expectations. Then Gus gets a new piano teacher who is young, kind, and interested in helping Lucy rekindle her love of piano — on her own terms. But when you’re used to performing for sold-out audiences and world-famous critics, can you ever learn to play just for yourself?
“An elegant novel…Zarr vividly develops the title character, illuminating Lucy’s teenage insecurities, her close and fractious friendships and the coming-of-age realization that she can pursue her dreams on her own terms…A rewarding journey for readers.” (The New York Times Book Review)
* “[Zarr] really, truly gets inside her characters’ minds and shows us what makes them complex human beings — their faults, fears, and hopes…This is a mellifluous novel about rekindling joy — in music, in the everyday, and in the beauty around us.” (Booklist, starred review)
* “Zarr doesn’t waste a word in this superb study of a young musical prodigy trying to reclaim her life….[Lucy is] a deeply real and sympathetic character, and that dimensionality extends to the rest of the cast. The pressures Lucy is under feels powerful, immediate, and true — her journey of self-discovery will strike a profound chord with readers.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)
* “The combination of sympathetic main character and unusual social and cultural world makes this satisfying coming-of-age story stand out.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)
* “Exploring relationships is where Zarr soars . . . This strong coming-of-age story about music, passion, and the search for identity will appeal to longtime fans of Zarr’s work and newcomers alike.” (SLJ, starred review)
“A satisfying coming-of-age story and a thoughtful treatise on art, identity, and personal fulfillment.” (The Horn Book)
“[A] gripping YA novel about a 16-year-old music prodigy trying to survive the cutthroat world of piano competitions.” (InStyle)
Illustrated in black-and-white. This ingenious fantasy centers around Milo, a bored ten-year-old who comes home to find a large toy tollbooth sitting in his room. Joining forces with a watchdog named Tock, Milo drives through the tollbooth’s gates and begins a memorable journey. He meets such characters as the foolish, yet lovable Humbug, the Mathemagician, and the not-so-wicked “Which,” Faintly Macabre, who gives Milo the “impossible” mission of returning two princesses to the Kingdom of Wisdom.
Review” I read [The Phantom Tollbooth] first when I was 10. I still have the book report I wrote, which began ‘This is the best book ever.’” –Anna Quindlen, The New York Times“A classic… Humorous, full of warmth and real invention.” –The New Yorker
In the beginning, Bob created the heavens and the earth and the beasts of the field and the creatures of the sea, and twenty-five million other species (including lots of cute girls). But mostly he prefers eating junk food and leaving his dirty clothes in a heap at the side of his bed.
Every time he falls in love, Earth erupts in natural disasters, and it’s usually Bob’s beleaguered assistant, Mr. B., who is left cleaning up the mess. So humankind is going to be very sorry indeed that Bob ever ran into a beautiful, completely irresistible girl called Lucy . . .
Review“…earns its place among the sharpest-witted tours de force of recent memory.”
(Kirkus, starred review )“Wildly inventive and laugh-out-loud funny…”
(Booklist, starred review )“…there’s no denying that Rosoff’s writing and sense of humor are a force of nature…”
(Publishers Weekly, starred review )“Cheeky and subversive.”
(Horn Book, starred review )
A swinging bio of young Ella Fitzgerald, who pushed through the toughest of times to become one of America’s most beloved jazz singers.
When Ella Fitzgerald danced the Lindy Hop on the streets of 1930s Yonkers, passersby said good-bye to their loose change. But for a girl who was orphaned and hungry, with raggedy clothes and often no place to spend the night, small change was not enough. One amateur night at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, Ella made a discovery: the dancing beat in her feet could travel up and out of her mouth in a powerful song —and the feeling of being listened to was like a salve to her heart. With lively prose, Roxane Orgill follows the gutsy Ella from school-girl days to a featured spot with Chick Webb’s band and all the way to her number-one radio hit “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.” Jazzy mixed-media art by illustrator Sean Qualls brings the singer’s indomitable spirit to life.
From School Library JournalGrade 3-6 As the title cleverly indicates, this book describes how the poor, raggedy cat scat-sang her way into jazz history. Orgill begins with Fitzgerald as a child dancing to her mother’s records and closes with the 21-year-old woman joining the Chick Webb Band in Harlem. The interim includes frank, but not frightening, descriptions of Fitzgerald’s tenure in an abusive orphanage and of the impoverished days when she slept where she could and sang on the streets for money. The prose account of Fitzgerald’s life often includes sound effects that recall her unique vocal style. For instance, she does not run away from the orphanage, she dashes off in a skit-scat skedaddle. Snatches of her famous songs are woven throughout the narrative. Meanwhile, Qualls firmly establishes himself as a leading illustrator of jazz biographies for children. He uses rich reds and blues to illustrate the history of this quintessentially American art form, just as he did for Jonah Winter’s Dizzy (Scholastic, 2006) and Carole Boston Weatherford’s Before John Was a Jazz Giant (Holt, 2008). His mixed media of acrylic, collage, and pencil capture the richness of Fitzgerald’s life and song. The back matter provides plenty of resources for further reading, listening, and Web exploration. Mary Landrum, Lexington Public Library, KY
Newbery Award-winning author Richard Peck is at his very best in this fast-paced mystery adventure. Fans of The Tale of Desperaux, A Little Princess, and Stuart Little will all be captivated by this memorable story of a lovable orphan mouse on an amazing quest.
The smallest mouse in London’s Royal Mews is such a little mystery that he hasn’t even a name. And who were his parents? His Aunt Marigold, Head Needlemouse, sews him a uniform and sends him off to be educated at the Royal Mews Mouse Academy. There he’s called “Mouse Minor” (though it’s not quite a name), and he doesn’t make a success of school. Soon he’s running for his life, looking high and low through the grand precincts of Buckingham Palace to find out who he is and who he might become.
Queen Victoria ought to be able to help him, if she can communicate with mice. She is all-seeing, after all, and her powers are unexplainable. But from her, Mouse Minor learns only that you do not get all your answers from the first asking. And so his voyage of self-discovery takes him onward, to strange and wonderful places.
Review“You can’t help but make comparisons to some other very famous books about mice, namely DiCamillo’s The Tale of Despereaux (2003) and White’s Stuart Little, but the parallel world of mice and humans also echoes The Borrowers. Peck (A Year Down Yonder, 2000) is terrific in relaying small details, like the intricacy of mouse uniforms, and this clever yarn should delight fans of animal adventure stories. (Starred Review)
(Booklist)“The small hero’s brushes with danger and run-ins with royalty (both human and rodent) unfold with Peck’s characteristic wit and flair for adventure.” (Starred Review)
(Publishers Weekly)“[Children will] enjoy the twists and turns of this old-fashioned rags-to-riches story. It’s written in an easy, unlabored style but still reflects Peck’s relish for the perfect word and phrase; readers and listeners (it makes a great read-aloud) will savor every one.”
(Horn Book)“A plucky hero, exciting plot, and a [satisfying] resolution, Peck’s latest is a gentle homage to old-school adventure tales.” (Starred Review)
(School Library Journal)“Peck’s writing is so rich, so laugh-out-loud funny, that the picture of the mysterious mousedom, complete with proper clothing, food, and life lessons reels us into a truly original, imaginative world. . . . A more-than-perfect book to share aloud with young readers.”
(The Christian Science Monitor)“Peck creates a pleasantly detailed, cozy Victorian mouse world. There’s some of Stuart Little’s appeal to Mouse Minor’s exploits.”
(BCCB)“Witty and precise prose… will enchant lovers of animal fantasy. This mouse-sized identity quest sparkles.”—Kirkus
(Kirkus Reviews)“Perfect for reading aloud to intermediate grade students or for recommending to readers who enjoy a mystery or a good adventure story. Recommend to fans of The Tale of Despereaux.”—Library Media Connection
(Library Media Connection)