Waking Brain Cells
The winners of the 2015 Waterstone’s Book Prize have been announced. This UK prize has three age groups and then an overall winner selected from those three. This year the overall winner was a debut book and also only the second picture book to take the overall prize.
Blown Away by Rob Biddulph
BEST TEEN BOOK
Half Bad by Sally Green
BEST YOUNG FICTION
Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens
Filed under: Awards
. @EliotSchrefer recommends these picture books: http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/books/2015/03/15/childrens-books-misfits-yeti-and-the-bird/24451007/ …
Filed under: Recommended Links
Wild! Bathtime by Courtney Dicmas
Wild! Bedtime by Courtney Dicmas
Wild! Mealtime by Courtney Dicmas
Wild! Playtime by Courtney Dicmas
Romping animal babies and zany humor combine to make this series a great pick for toddlers and infants.
Bathtime shows all sorts of different animals taking baths, cleaning faces and other parts of the body. The humor comes at the end with a mother pig looking dejectedly at her sleeping piglets who are all clean while she is dirty.
Bedtime invites everyone to curl up to sleep but some of the little animals are not quite ready yet. Grabbing your teddy has a different meaning here as does turning out the light. Clever little touches make this one that you will read again and again.
Mealtime has animals acting very much like toddlers. They want more to eat, eat too quickly, and even try to hide their peas. Once again clever matching of animals to phrases makes for fun reading.
Playtime is the ultimate romp of a book, showing lots of wrestling and movement. And the parents are all in for the fun, mostly.
This series will be appreciated by children who love animals and also little ones who may need an excuse to slow down and read a bit. Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Reviewed from copies received from Child’s Play.
Filed under: Board Books, Book Reviews Tagged: animals, toddlers
A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder
The dragon Miss Drake has recently lost her beloved human pet, Fluffy. She is rather surprised and even irritated then when her pet’s great-niece, Winnie, shows up with a key to her lair. Winnie and her mother were given the home above Miss Drake’s and Fluffy, or Great-Aunt Amelia as she was known to Winnie left directions on how to find Miss Drake. Soon the pair are off having adventures together, though Miss Drake has plans to make Winnie far more docile and polite. After flying to a shop up in the clouds, Winnie gets a sketchbook that has a tingle of magic about it. She sets to a project of drawing each of the pretty magical creatures she has seen on their trip. But soon her drawings have come to life and left the pages of the book. Now it is up to Winnie and Miss Drake to work together to catch all of the creatures, even the one that threatens the entire city of San Francisco and the magical world.
Each chapter in this book features tips on how to best train your human pet. The entire book is filled with humor and whimsy and drenched in magic. The book is pure adventure of the fantasy sort. The world makes sense, a hidden world of magic right alongside our own, specifically in San Francisco. There are spells to keep normal people from seeing the magical ones and this book has that wonderful touch of Harry Potter where the magic is right in front of us. The writing here is playful and jolly, setting the tone of a grand adventure with plenty of danger, problems to solve, and one new best friend to discover.
Miss Drake is a grand character. Having a book with the dragon as the narrator adds to the fun of the story and also offers a unique perspective. It would have been a far different book told by Winnie, since the humor of Miss Drake is not always apparent on the surface. Winnie too is a great protagonist. She doesn’t shy away from Miss Drake even when she is rude or shows her huge teeth. She stand up to her and it looks like at the end she is going to be a very different sort of pet than Miss Drake has ever had before.
Magic and humor come together in this warm and wonderful fantasy that looks to be the first in a new series. Appropriate for ages 7-9.
Reviewed from digital galley received from Edelweiss and Crown Books for Young Readers.
Filed under: Book Reviews, Elementary School Tagged: dragons, fantasy, friendship, magic, pets
Good Night, Knight by Betsy Lewin
When Horse and Knight are falling asleep, Knight has a dream about golden cookies. So he wakes up Horse and sets off on a quest to find the golden cookies. They search everywhere, in hollow tree trunks and under water and in the bushes, riding from one place to the next at a brisk trot. It isn’t until they return home and Knight has collapsed from exhaustion that Knight realizes that the cookies were right in their castle all along. The two have a golden cookie feast and then go to bed, but it’s not long before Horse has a golden dream of his own!
Written for emerging readers, this picture book is written with a limited vocabulary and words that repeat on the page and from one section of the story to another. The picture book format will invite reluctant readers to give reading a try. Lewin also wisely incorporates plenty of humor and galloping around, giving the reader reasons to turn the page to see what will happen next. It’s a good mix of action and silliness.
Lewin’s illustrations break the text into nice readable chunks appropriate for beginning readers. Plenty of attention is paid to the illustrations, offering humor beyond the text itself. For example, Knight never removes his armor, even to sleep! The art is simple, funny and inviting.
Head out on a quest with your beginning reader and this simple picture book. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Holiday House.
Filed under: Book Reviews, Easy Readers, Picture Books Tagged: dreams, horses, knights, quests
One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
Used to just dropping their baskets when they wore out, people in Njau, Gambia did the same thing with their plastic bags, but the plastic bags decayed like the baskets would. They also didn’t last nearly as long. Torn bags can’t be mended or used at all, so one by one, then ten by ten, and thousands by thousands they were thrown to the side of the road. They accumulated in heaps, poisoning the goats that tried to eat the garbage around them. Water pooled in them and brought more mosquitoes and diseases. Burying and burning them weren’t the solution either. Then Isatou Ceesay found a way to recycle the plastic bags and get jobs for her community by transforming them into something new.
This book speaks to the power that one person can have to change things, both for themselves and their entire community. The prose here is straight-forward but also has moments of poetry thrown in, showing the devastation the plastic bags were creating in the Gambia. The book also shows the way that an idea is born, comes to fruition, passes through being scorned and is finally embraced.
The illustrations by Zunon are remarkable. Using collage, they bring together the textures of the weaving and baskets as well as the plastic bags from photographs. The textiles of the Gambia are also incorporated and vibrate on the page. They are combined with painting and other more playful textures to create the natural setting and the people.
Strong writing and superb illustrations combine to tell the true story of how one woman transformed pollution. Appropriate for ages 6-9.
Reviewed from library copy.
Filed under: Book Reviews, Nonfiction, Picture Books Tagged: Africa, communities, environment, garbage, plastic, pollution
The New Small Person by Lauren Child
The creator of Charlie and Lola returns with a new picture book sibling pair. Elmore Green has always been an only child. He has his own room, no one moves his toys around, and no one eats his jelly beans. But suddenly a new baby enters the picture and soon Elmore finds himself sharing a room, unable to leave any of his toys unattended, and no one pays him attention. Perhaps worst of all, his jelly bean collection is licked by his little brother! Just as all seems to be falling apart, Elmore discovers that there are some parts of having a new sibling that aren’t so bad after all like laughing at TV shows together, sharing toys, and even sharing jelly beans (maybe).
Child has a wonderful way of understanding what children are thinking. While other new sibling books have more focus on the loss of parental attention, Child shows exactly how a small sibling can bother an older one. She merrily skips quickly past the baby stage and directly to toddlerhood where the most disruption can take place. Young readers will enjoy a book that has plenty of humor but also is realistic too.
Child’s art is done in her signature style. Her collage work incorporates pieces of cloth and patterned paper. I appreciate that her new family are people of color and also that it is not a focus of the book but just a visual component, natural and not remarked upon.
Perfect for Charlie & Lola fans and also for older siblings experiencing their own toddlers at home. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
Filed under: Book Reviews, Picture Books Tagged: families, new babies, sharing, siblings
Shadow Scale by Rachel Hautman
Serafina was one of my favorite dragon books of all time and here is its sequel! I tend to really dislike seconds books in series, especially those that I love. They seem disappointing after the amazement of the first novel. Happily, this sequel does it all right. It continues the story of Serafina the half-dragon. The kingdom of Goredd has long born the brunt of the dragon wars, protecting the rest of the south. Now they must ask for help in order to survive a war. Serafina and the young queen learn of a magical weapon wielded by during the time of the Saints and Serafina sets off to gather all of the other half-dragons, the ones who populate her mind garden. But as she gathers new allies, an old enemy re-emerges and wreaks havoc on those that Serafina holds most dearly. Soon Serafina is without allies and has no one she can trust, and she is the only one who can save the others.
This sequel was a long time coming, but worth all of the wait. Hautman has once again crafted a world of dragons that fits into the dragon myth but also expands upon it and makes it come fully alive. She writes with such amazing detail, crafting a world of intrigue and wonder. At the same time, it is grittily real, with real repercussions, a world filled with bias and bigotry, faith that can be compromised, and a reliance on real intelligence and wit to save.
Serafina remains one of the great fantasy heroines. She reads as real, a girl trapped in a world with greatness forced upon her. She is a musician at heart but she must step up and also be a heroine for the world at large. Hautman shows the strong connection of music and friends, music and science. She creates a world around Serafina that is just as realistic as she is, but also populated by dragons.
Beautifully written with one amazing heroine, this novel is a worthy sequel to the first, and that is the greatest praise that could be given. Appropriate for ages 13-16.
Reviewed from digital galley received from Netgalley and Random House.
Filed under: Book Reviews, Teen Tagged: dragons, fantasy
Vegetables in Underwear by Jared Chapman
Released April 7, 2015.
All different sorts of vegetables demonstrate the joys of wearing big-kid underwear in all sorts of colors and styles. Never taking the subject too seriously, this book celebrates an often under-appreciated piece of clothing. One after another vegetables show the different sorts of underwear from dirty to clean, big to small, and serious to funny. But there is one sort of kid who doesn’t wear underwear, since babies wear diapers. Suitable giggle-worthy, these grinning vegetables invite young children to join the underwear ranks.
Chapman has written this book in an infectious rhyme that is jaunty and adds much to the fun of reading this book aloud. One never quite knows what is on the next page, except that it will be friendly and fun. The book ends with a silly reminder that you should have your clothes on top of your underwear before you leave the house, something that will have preschoolers laughing along.
Chapmas has created an entire garden of smiling vegetables here. Using whitespace very nicely, they pop on the page in all of their colorfulness. The vegetables are friendly, approachable and entirely silly. Children will immediately get the joke of vegetables being the ones to show humans how to wear undies.
Funny and friendly, this is a great pick for potty training giggles. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Abrams.
Filed under: Book Reviews, Picture Books Tagged: potty training, underwear, vegetables
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