Saturday, December 13, 2008

WAR IS...soldiers, survivors, and storytellers talk about war--Marc Aronson & Patty Cambell, Editors

The editors of this important book for teens and young adults came at their topic from quite different directions. Aronson, the author of many award-winning nonfiction books for teens, says: "I believe that it is criminal to ask soldiers to fight for us without then listening to them. They overcome their fear and pay the physical price in injuries, the psychic price of seeing friends killed, and the soul price in having to kill others. We cannot asking others to do this for us without hearing them, healing them and caring for them."

Patty Campbell, a young-adult librarian, critic, editor and author says: " The plain and simple truth is that war is insane--but not inevitable. I have faith that young people can be freed of the delusions of glory that have made war so attractive to them if we make it our priority to show them the ugly reality of participating in a war."

The result of this collaboration is a collection of more than twenty commissioned and edited pieces of fiction and nonfiction, dedicated to trusting readers with the truth.


Addie's mom creates a life for herself and Addie which resembles a roller coaster. Either the frig is full or there is only toast for supper. Either Mommers is home giving Addie pointers on upping her vocabulary--or she is out "job interviewing" and doesn't return before midnight.

Addie longs for a life like her sixth grade contemporaries, with clothes that match and freedom from heckling by the other kids. Instead, she faces daily challenges and must hone a hopeful spirit. She gets help from unlikely people including neighbors across the vacant lot. Her stepdad, Dwight, who is parenting Addie's half sisters, comes by when he can. He's always on her side but must work outside the community, leaving Adddie to fend mostly on her own.

Sometimes courage and a hopeful spirit need a boost. Readers will want to find out how Addie's life changes in ways that cause both sadness and relief.

Ten Little FINGERS and Ten Little TOES by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury

This delightful large format picture book celebrates babies all over the world. Fox and Oxenbury present heartwarming images of babies born in different places on the globe and in different circumstances. Each has ten little FINGERS and ten little TOES.
"There was one little baby who was born on the ice, and another in a tent, who was just as nice. And both of these babies, as everyone knows, had ten little fingers and ten little toes." With simple rhymes likes these, and happy images of babies from many cultures, the author and illustrator encourage readers and toddler listeners to engage in the joy of knowing and loving babies from many cultures.

WILD BOARS COOK by Meg Rosoff and Sophie Blackall

Boris, Morris, Horace, and Doris appear again. Readers of MEET WILD BOARS will recognize this rollicking foursome with their bad manners and hefty appetites. In this sequel, each hungry boar craves a special treat. However, Doris finds a good recipe for the "biggest, messiest, stickiest, gooiest, chewiest, most delicious pudding in the whole wide world." They proceed to make it.
Adults and small children alike will want to read and re-read this tale while chortling over each hilarious picture of boars cooking...and eating.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts struggling to survive. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen lives with her mother and younger sister. She steps up to take her sister's place when her sister is designated for the fight. But Katniss is a survivor. The story revolves around her use of her skills, values, and courage to bring a new shape to the role of contender. Her choices and her attempts to develop alliances instead of enemies are a fascinating web of tensions and satisfactions.
The author, who dedicates herself to writing about the effects of war and violence on young people, has created a disturbing but realistic metaphor for the world our young people inhabit.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Day Leo Said I HATE YOU! BY Robie H. Harris

The author, along with illustrator Molly Bang,portrays what happens when a little boy feels SO frustrated and SO mad at a parent who has said NO all day long. Together, they navigate not only the momentary angry feelings and outbursts of young children, but also the most profound bonds between parent and child.
This is a fine book for every small child who has ever said: I HATE YOU!and wondered what comes next. And for every adult who has been devastated and challenged by such an interaction. Adults who read this book to children--and the children, too--will find the ending reaffirming.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Jon Scieszka presents GUYS WRITE FOR GUYS READ

Jon Scieszka has compiled a rich collection of stories, comics, mini-memoirs and other treats from world-famous writers, illustrators, cartoonists and editors of boy-favorite publications like Sports Illustrated and The Onion.

All write about being boys, from their unique perspectives. Each piece is short, bitter or sweet, and often illustrated. A new foreword and an excerpt from Scieszka's Knucklehead is included to round out this newest edition.
Writers range from M.T. Anderson to Paul Zelinsky with ninety-one others in-between.

GUYS READ is Szieszka's Web site connecting guys with the stuff they like to read.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Off to War: Voices of Soldier's Children by Deborah Ellis

The author specializes in creating fiction and nonfiction which carries to her readers the voices of children throughout the world. These are some of her words about this important book:

"Beyond the financial and political costs of these(Iraq and Afghanistan) wars, there is a high human cost. Untold numbers of civilians living in Iraq and Afghanistan, including many children, have lost their homes, their livelihoods, and their lives due to these wars....

But participating in a war as a soldier also carries a high cost. Part of that cost is being paid by the military families who are left behind, especially the children. As the wars drag on, deployments(time spent in war zones) are extended and repeated. Mothers and fathers are returning home altered by their experience of being involved in killing and surrounded by devastation, and sometimes finding their families changed, too in their absence."

OFF TO WAR contains mini-interviews with young children, ages 6-17, from Canada and the US. Their parents are in either the regular military or members of the Reserves and National Guard who have been deployed. The kids are honest about the negatives and positives of being a military kid. Kids in similar circumstances, but who have no one to talk to about it, will find this book refreshing.

Our Farm: Four Seasons with Five Kids by Michael J. Rosen

Rosen spent two years on the farm in Ohio with the Bennett family, Mom and Dad, and the five Bennett kids, ranging in age from 17 to 4. He chronicles the year, through the seasons and through the voices of Caleb, Chase, Cayne, Grey, and Ali, along with Dave(Dad), and Becky(Mom) and the three family dogs.

His format is lively, awash in detailed photos and closeup scenes of every conceivable aspect of the farm, including the manure piles. He starts each section with numbers, as in Spring: By the Numbers, using data on cows and their production, chickens and their eggs, fish swimming in the pond and so on.

This reviewer grew up on a similar small farm and was captivated by the details, the explanations of farm processes, in the voices of the kids who live them each day. If you want to know about reaching under a hen for eggs, burying the beloved family dog, or feeling the squishy bottom of the pond on a hot summer's day, it's all here.

All ages.

How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate: Scientists and Kids Explore Global Warming by Lynne Cherry & Gary Braasch

Lynne Cherry, our foremost children's environmental writer, and photojournalist Gary Braasch, show us the science behind the headlines, in terms that are hopeful and not terrifying to young people. They explore evidence from flowers, butterflies, birds, frogs, trees and glaciers gathered from scientists all over the world, sometimes with assistance from young "citizen-scientists." And they discuss what young people, and their families and teachers, can do to learn about climate change and take action.
Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature,says"This is a necessary book. It treats kids with respect--they deserve to know what's going on. But they also deserve to know that there's much that can be done, and much that is being done."

Focus of the book: ages 10-14, with color photographs.

Monday, March 17, 2008

After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson

"It was hard to read anything about Tupac dying and not think about D. Seems D was right--you listen to Tupac's songs and you know he's singing about people like D, about all the kids whose mama went away, about all the injustice."

When D Foster walks into Neeka and her best friend's lives, their world opens up. D doesn't have a "real" mom constantly telling her what to do, and the girls envy her independence. But D wants nothing more than to feel connected, and the three girls form a tight bond--and a passion for the music of Tupac Shakur. Di's the one who understands Tupac's songs best, and through her, his lyrics become more personal for all of them.
Woodson's compelling story for older teens shows how music touches our lives and translates our challenges, how much life can be lived in a short time, and how all-too-brief connections can touch us to the core and remain a part of us forever.

And What Comes After A Thousand by Anette Bley

Otto and Lisa are special friends. Otto may be old, but he can still spit cherry pits, make slingshots and grow delicious raspberries. He and Lisa share a fascination with numbers, tell stories of brave Native Americans, and gaze at the stars.
But when Otto becomes ill and then dies, Lisa struggles to understand. Her rage, confusion and mourning are reflected in the illustrations as she slowly comes to know that, while people die, memories last forever.
This picture book, translated from the original German, is a gift to any young child and caring adult struggling to make sense of loss, particularly the loss of a loved and aging parent, grandparent or other special person. The illustrations, by the author, are especially skillful in their depiction of Lisa keeping company with Otto as his life ebbs away.