Friday, July 15, 2016

July Recommendations


PAX, by Sara Pennypacker, is the moving story of a boy and the fox that he raised. When his dad goes off to war, the boy must leave the pet behind and move in with his grandfather three hundred miles away. But the boy is overwhelmed with worry and runs off to find his fox. Told in the alternating voices of fox and boy, this is a dual survival story, as each learns what it takes to live and thrive. It’s an age-appropriate look at compassion and responsibility that will tug at reader's heartstrings (and quite possibly give them a good cry). It’s also a nice example of quality bookmaking. From the illustrations by Jon Klassen, to the deckle-edged pages, to the deep green and gold-embossed cover, this is a book to hold and enjoy. (MG)

In UNBECOMING, by Jenny Downham (Before I Die), a grandmother Katie never knew she had comes to live with her mum and brother. But Mary has Alzheimer’s and brings more questions than answers. What’s the real story of Katie’s family tree? How does Mary fit in, and why hasn’t she been around before? Mum is hiding plenty of secrets, but Katie has a secret, too. Three generations of red-headed women confront past and present with confusion, clarity, and an astonishing amount of heart. Don’t miss this top-notch storytelling about letting go and learning to honor your own, true self. (YA)

A wonderful book, THE PASSION OF DOLSSA, by Julie Berry (All the Truth That’s in Me), is historical fiction with a distinct magical touch. In 1241, a young noblewoman named Dolssa shares visions of Christ, her beloved. The Catholic Church arrests her for heresy, but she escapes before the burning. Botille, peasant from a small seaside town, finds Dolssa and saves her from the men who pursue her. Botille brings Dolssa to the tavern she runs with her two sisters, where they desperately try to keep Dolssa a secret. All plans fail when Dolssa shows an ability to heal the sick, and a friar obsessed with finding her appears. The writing is absolutely mesmerizing in this smart, literary tale.

Picture Books:

In MORE-IGAMI, written by Dori Kleber, illustrated by G. Brian Karas, Joey loves to fold things. When he discovers origami he knows he must become a master. But his passion for paper-folding gets him in trouble, until he finds the perfect place to practice his art. Karas’s illustrations are terrific, as always, in this appealing look at doing what you love.

THIS IS NOT A PICTURE BOOK, by Sergio Ruzzier, is a creative and whimsical homage to books, be they funny or sad, wild or peaceful, books that take you places and bring you home again—books!

A BRAVE BEAR, written by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Emily Hughes, begins “Everything was hot. The sun was hot. The air was hot. Even the shade was hot.” And—yes—I read it on a very hot day! I followed this bear and his dad to the river, enjoying the concise-but-descriptive text and stunning pictures, as the bears share a great day and look forward to tomorrow.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

July's Book of the Month--Finding Winnie

July’s Book of the Month is the exceptional 2016 Caldecott winner, FINDING WINNIE: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, by Lindsay Mattock, illustrated by Sophie Blackall.

A mother, cuddling with her son, tells of how Harry Colebourne, a Canadian veterinarian on his way to care for horses in WWI, spied a trapper with a baby bear. He bought the bear for $20 and named her Winnipeg to remind his fellow soldiers of home. Winnie sailed to England, where she became known as the Mascot of the Canadian Infantry Brigade. When the order came that it was time to fight, Harry took Winnie to the London Zoo. A boy named Christopher Robin befriended her and he named his own stuffed bear Winnie-the-Pooh. Christopher Robin's father, who was A. A. Milne, wrote about all sorts of adventures that Christopher Robin had with his stuffed animals in the wood behind their home.

This is a charming story, framed as a cozy-but-true bedtime tale. We begin with endpapers showing the woods where bear cub Winnie plays, and end by learning how the author’s son, Cole, fits in (he was named after his great-great-grandfather). A family tree, as well as reproductions of old photos, a diary, and the official record card from the zoo, help illuminate the many layers of this story. The illustrations are also extremely descriptive, and beautiful, as well. Clearly, we are being offered an often-told, much-loved piece of family lore, passed down through generations, and now turned into this award-winning picture book. Readers of all ages will relate to the story the author tells her son about how one very special bear became the inspiration for A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh.

I personally don’t read much non-fiction, but I found this non-fiction picture book a pleasure to read!

Have you read FINDING WINNIE? What do you think?