Waking Brain Cells
Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff
Trent can’t manage to move on from last year when a tragic accident ended with another boy dead. Trent lost not only all of his friends because of it but also finds himself unable to play the sports he loved, like baseball. At the same time, Trent is unable to control his anger, even if he puts his most disturbing thoughts down on paper in drawings. It helps a bit, but he continues to have problems getting angry at everything and everyone. It all just proves that he is entirely the messed up kid that everyone things he is already. Fallon enters Trent’s live as they head to middle school. She is a girl who loves baseball movies, has a similar sense of humor, and has clearly also survived a tragedy which left her with a scarred face. Fallon becomes Trent’s closest friend, but one burst of anger may end that too, taking away the only good thing he has left.
Graff does such a beautiful job in this middle grade novel. She creates in Trent a truly complex character, one that readers will need time to understand. Trent is at his heart a boy dealing with death and loss and his own role in it, including showing a lot of self-hatred. So in that way, he is an entirely understandable character, one that is sympathetic. Then there is the angry Trent, who loses control, says horrible things, and lashes out. That part of his personality is hard to like, making him at times a character who is far from heroic. At the same time, this is the same person, likable one moment and the next impossible to like at all.
Graff captures the loss of control that comes with flashing red anger, the words that flow out of control, and the way that it feels in the body. Readers will completely understand those zings of anger and the shame that follows if you lash out. Graff also shows a path forward from being isolated and angry, a way to find people to help you even if you have lashed out at them earlier. It is a powerful story of redemption, of learning to return to who you really are, and of self forgiveness.
Beautifully written, this book is an amazing look at powerful emotions and the equal power of watering plants, breathing deeply and playing baseball. Appropriate for ages 10-13.
Reviewed from ARC received from Philomel Books.
Filed under: Book Reviews, Middle School Tagged: anger, death, emotions, families, friendship
Galleycat has the news that a children’s book has won the 2015 Australian Book Industry Awards. The 52-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths, illustrated by Terry Denton won the overall Book of the Year award as well as the Book of the Year for Younger Children. The book is the fourth in the Treehouse series that combines silly illustrations and funny antics into zany comedy for young readers.
Here are the winners of the other 2015 children’s book awards:
BOOK OF THE YEAR FOR OLDER CHILDREN
Withering-by-Sea by Judith Russell
SMALL PUBLISHER’S CHILDREN’S BOOK OF THE YEAR
Tea and Sugar Christmas by Jane Jolly and Robert Ingpen
Filed under: Awards
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What do you do when a chicken follows you home? All of the answers you need are in this nonfiction picture book that tells you facts about chickens. First, you will need to know what to feed your chicken. You may also want to know what kind of chicken you now have and whether it is a boy or a girl. You will need a chicken coop to keep your chicken safe from predators and give it somewhere to live. Then there is the question of eggs and if you want fertile eggs you will need both a hen and a rooster. Then the eggs have to hatch successfully. If they do, you will have lots of chickens instead of just two. Maybe they will follow someone else home!
Page is the author of several popular books about animals and she captures the joy of keeping chickens in this picture book. Using the framework of someone suddenly having to care for a chicken makes the book very approachable and readable. The facts are presented rather like a guidebook and offer matter-of-fact information for the new chicken owner or readers interested in chickens. This book will make a great addition to school and public libraries since it is information just at the right level for early report writers.
Page’s illustrations are spectacular. Done in collage and cut paper, she manages to create feathers out of patterned paper that look real and textured. Fuzzy baby chicks are almost touchable on the page as they struggled free from their eggs. The illustrations are large and bold, making this a book good for using with a class.
No need to be chicken, add this one to your library collection! Even children who haven’t found their own hens will delight in this book. Appropriate for ages 6-9.
Reviewed from copy received from Beach Lane Books.
Filed under: Book Reviews, Elementary School, Nonfiction, Picture Books Tagged: chickens
EarlyWord has the news that Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick is being turned into a film. Celebrated director Todd Haynes is looking to direct and are looking at casting.
This would be the second of Selznick’s novels to be made into a film, following Hugo, based on Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which was directed by Martin Scorsese.
Filed under: Movies
Oliver Jeffers has become only the third person to ever win both the Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year and their Children’s Choice Award for the same book. Jeffers took both awards for his Once Upon an Alphabet.
Here are the other CBI Awards:
Honour Award for Illustration
Chris Haughton for Shh! We Have a Plan
Honour Award for Fiction
Áine Ní Ghlinn for Daideo
Judges’ Special Award
Gabriel Rosenstock and Brian Fitzgerald for Haiku Más é do thoil é!
Eilís Dillon Award for a first children’s book:
Louise O’Neill for Only Ever Yours
Filed under: Awards
I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
Released May 26, 2015.
This is the first YA novel by Priest, a well-known fantasy author for adults, and it’s a treat. May and Libby have been friends for years, the best of friends after meeting in fifth grade on a playground. The two of them wrote comics together about Princess X, a katana-wielding heroine. But then one day, Libby was gone, dead after a car crash from a bridge. Three years later, May has returned to their hometown and notices an image of a princess holding a katana on a sticker, a sticker that is brand new. May tracks down the image to a web comic where she realizes there are real similarities to the story that she and Libby had created. How can that be? And how strange is it that some of the stories seem to have messages only May could understand hidden inside of them?
There is a real joy in finding a book that does digital life so very well. The online elements of the story and the web comic are clear and make perfect sense. The hacking and dark net also work well in the way they are portrayed where there is information to be found but often it’s not legal to access it. That aspect alone, so often mismanaged in novels, is worth this read. But add to that a determined friend who quickly believes that her dead friend is still alive, an online and real life quest for information, horrible bad guys, and the exploration of Seattle both above and underground. It’s a book that is a searing fast read thanks to its pacing and the need to find out the truth.
The online comics are shared as comic inserts in the book, and were not completed in the galley that I have. The first couple of comics were available and add to the drama of the book. The mix of words and images works very well here with Priest using it both to move the story forward and to show the drama and appeal of the comic itself.
Smartly written with great characters and an amazing quest for the truth, this book is satisfying, surprising and impressive. Appropriate for ages 12-15.
Reviewed from ARC received from Arthur A. Levine Books.
Filed under: Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, Middle School, Teen Tagged: art, comics, death, friendship, kidnapping, superheroes
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