Tuesday, April 16, 2019

April Recommendations


A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY, by Brigid Kemmerer, is my favorite novel of the year, so far. It’s an inspired retelling of Beauty and the Beast, with Prince Rhen under a nasty curse that dooms him to repeat his eighteenth year over and over, until he finds a woman who can love him--even though he turns into a monster and kills any living thing in his path. Harper is the 327th such woman, brought over from “real world” Washington, DC, for Rhen’s last chance to save his kingdom. Harper is tough enough to change things up, and might just be the one, but that Enchantress and her curse are so strong… (YA)

DRY, by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman, is another high concept story from the prolific National Book Award winner, writing here with his son. When Southern California taps run dry from prolonged drought, it doesn’t take long for social norms to break down. Sixteen-year-old Alyssa finds herself teaming up with Kelton, her Boy Scout--and survivalist—neighbor and classmate, trying to find her missing parents and keep ten-year-old brother Garrett safe when things get really crazy. It’s fast-paced and entertaining. (YA)

Picture Books:

I finally got a look at JULIÁN IS A MERMAID, by Jessica Love. Inspired by a book he’s reading--and three women on the subway--Julian decides he’s a mermaid. He uses his abuela’s flowers and window curtain to dress up and, rather than getting angry, she donates a strand of beads, then takes him join the rest of the mermaids in a parade. The watercolor, gouache, and ink illustrations are gorgeous and, aside from the uplifting themes, it’s a terrific look at how an artist can incorporate fantasy elements into an otherwise realistic setting.

In KITTEN AND THE NIGHT WATCHMAN, written by John Sullivan and illustrated by Taeeun Yoo, we follow the watchman as he leaves his family and drives to work, where he “makes his rounds, alone.” The night gets a little less solitary when a stray kitten joins him. The digital art makes great use of color and perspective to bring this gentle story—featuring plenty of construction equipment--to life.

THE VERY IMPATIENT CATERPILLAR, by Ross Burach, is how The Very Hungry Caterpillar might act if he gobbled his way through entirely too much sugar. THIS caterpillar wants metamorphosis to happen right away, and finds it extremely difficult to "let nature take its course.” Plenty of scientific facts are woven into the text, which is presented solely using speech bubbles, and the comical art will keep kids laughing as they learn.

In WHEN SPRING COMES TO THE DMZ, Uk-Bae Lee cycles through the seasons of this singular place, contrasting the innocence and beauty of the natural world with the sadness of the “razor wire fence,” and the "warships from South Korea and North Korea [that] face off in the sea near the island.” A boy and his grandpa visit throughout the year, and Grandpa gazes across the land, wishing he could just go home.


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