Sunday, January 15, 2017

January Recommendations


GERTIE’S LEAP TO GREATNESS, by Kate Beasley, features a powerhouse of a fifth grade character. When Gertie’s estranged mother’s house goes on the market, Gertie decides that being the greatest fifth grader in the universe will keep her mom from leaving. But when perfect Mary Sue Spivey arrives, fresh from Hollywood with a movie director dad, Gertie’s plans go south pretty quickly. Chock full of fun, with plenty of action and heart, this one’s a winner! Spot illustrations are by Caldecott Honor artist Jillian Tamaki. (MG)

THE CREEPING SHADOW, the fourth Lockwood & Co. book by Jonathan Stroud, is every bit as much dark fun as the first three. Psychic Investigator Lucy Carlyle has been out on her own for a while, but when Lockwood & Co. need her special Listener skills for a particularly gruesome assignment, she agrees to work with them. Then Lucy’s valuable ghost-jar is stolen, and she finds she needs the help of her old crew to uncover the secret behind a recent spate of haunted relic robberies. Plenty of thrills and chills, sarcastic snark, and lots (and lots) of ghosts! (upper MG)

CROOKED KINGDOM, by Leigh Bardugo, is a follow-up to the very wonderful Six of Crows. Set in the same imaginative world as Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy, this duology is just as strong as the original three books, and maybe even more so. Kaz Brekker is leader of a gang of misfit thieves and murderers who have been double-crossed after pulling off the heist of the century. This plays like a version of Ocean’s Eleven with the addition of Grisha superpowers, a horribly addictive drug known as jurda parem, and an especially valuable hostage. Great characters, smart, non-stop action, imaginative setting: these books have it all! (YA)

Picture Books:

LITTLE PENGUINS, with words by Cynthia Rylant and pictures by Christian Robinson, describes the experience of a family of penguins frolicking in the first snowstorm of the season. The perfect combination of spare, lyrical prose and distinctive illustrations (cut paper collage and acrylic paint applied in various ways) make this a standout.

Since it’s winter, we have another penguin book, PENGUIN PROBLEMS, by Jory John with illustrations by Lane Smith. It’s mostly stream-of-consciousness complaining by one pretty funny penguin, with the addition of some pearls of wisdom from an unlikely source. Kids should love it.

DU IZ TAK? by Carson Ellis features a plethora of whimsical creatures who follow the progress of a small plant unfurling. Told entirely in a made-up language, there is plenty of fun and beautiful art to be enjoyed here.

Happy reading!


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

January's Book of the Month--Thunder Boy Jr.

Happy New Year!

January’s Book of the month is Thunder Boy Jr., written by Sherman Alexie and illustrated by Yuyi Morales.

Thunder Boy Smith Jr. loves his dad but hates that they share a name. Why can’t he be Sam, the way his mom had wanted? People call his dad Big Thunder, like "a storm filling up the sky." Jr. gets called Little Thunder, which sounds “like a burp or a fart.” He wants a name of his own, one that celebrates his own life and accomplishments. There are so many possibilities! Finally, Big Thunder reads his son’s heart, and Little Thunder gets a new name that celebrates both their love AND individuality.

Alexie’s text is lyrical without wasting words. His narrator, Little Thunder, is appealing and full of life, with interjections in speech bubbles adding humor to this heartfelt story. And Morales uses textures scanned from wood and brick in her art, to build an appealing, stylized world. On every page, this team’s efforts combine to portray the pride and silliness, but most importantly, the affection that binds this family.

It’s a terrific package, and has landed on many Best of 2016 lists. Headed for a Caldecott or Golden Kite? Regardless, it should find its way to many story times.

Have you read Thunder Boy Jr.? What do you think?