Sunday, September 15, 2019

September Recommendations


BEVERLY, RIGHT HERE is Kate DiCamillo’s follow up to her two recent novels, RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE and LOUISIANA’S WAY HOME, about three young Florida “rancheros" who meet at baton twirling classes. In this third story, 14-year-old Beverly Tapinski leaves home after her dog Buddy dies. Her mom barely notices. Beverly makes it to Tamaray Beach, where she finds a a job in Mr. C's fish restaurant, and a place to stay with a lonely old woman who lives in a pink trailer and appreciates Beverly's company. The prose in this novel feels pared down and spare, and, while I was reading, I wondered if perhaps too many things were being left unsaid. But, once I was finished, it felt simply perfect—not one word too few or too many in this wonderful balancing act of the author knowing how to trust her readers. (MG)

OWL’S OUTSTANDING DONUTS, by Robin Yardi, features an owl who loves donuts with pink icing. He also loves his Big Sur home, so when two shady figures in a white truck dump a load of “stinky slop” into a ditch by the side Highway One, Alfred (the owl) interrupts his midnight snack to enlist the help of Mattie, a young girl who lives in the airstream next to his favorite donut shop. Mattie and her friends launch an investigation into the crime, and they have exactly eight days before school starts to save the nearby creek (and drinking water in the area), find "the real gloppers,” and clear Aunt Molly’s name and so she won’t have to sell the donut shop. It's a sweet example of magical realism meets environmental activism. (MG)

Picture Books:

In WHO WET MY PANTS? written by Bob Shea and illustrated by Zachariah Ohora, when Reuben discovers a wet spot on his pants, he demands to know who is responsible. Even though it “was probably just an accident” and his “super great friends" are completely understanding, Reuben insists that “NO ONE gets donuts" until he gets "justice and dry pants.” Kids will love it when they figure out the mystery of the wet pants, and they’ll surely relate to Reuben’s approach to managing his embarrassment. This funny, kid-friendly tirade is told strictly through dialog, and rendered with colorful acrylic illustrations that include plenty of speech bubbles.

FOX AND THE BOX, by Yvonne Ivinson, is the story of a fox—with a box-- at the seaside, who wants to use his tail for a sail. But “Oh no! Tail sail fail.” Good thing there’s a “sail for sale." Told in very few words, sometimes only one to a page, this is a completely realized, magical summertime adventure, and another example of terrific illustrations rendered with acrylic paint.

TWO BROTHERS, FOUR HANDS: THE ARTISTS ALBERTO AND DIEGO GIACOMETTI, by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Hadley Hooper, tells an inspiring dual biography of these talented brothers who worked together for most of their lives. It describes Alberto’s journey to becoming a respected artist, and how he was helped along the way by Diego, who eventually came to be recognized in his own right. The text is clear, the illustrations (paint and ink, finished in Photoshop) make expert use of color and line, and the book, with its thick paper and thoughtful design, is itself a work of art.

In CAMP TIGER, written by Susan Choi, illustrated by John Rocco, it’s time for this family of four to enjoy their annual camping trip at Mountain Pond. Except this time, while they're pitching their tent, a tiger joins them. Good thing dad brought an extra tent. Choi weaves a thoughtful, yet fantastical, tale (one which should prove—again--that kids will eagerly sit through a rewarding story longer than 500 words), and Roccos watercolor, pencil, and digital illustrations bring it expertly to life.


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