Monday, December 4, 2017

Book of the Week: A Different Pond



A Different Pond

by Bao Phi
Illustrated by Thi Bui
Published by Capstone, 2017
32 pages
ISBN: 978-1623708030
Ages 6-9


A Vietnamese American boy’s predawn fishing outing with his dad is the subject of a narrative shaped by an exquisite accounting of details. So much beyond the action is conveyed through beautifully weighted sentences (“I feel the bag of minnows move. They swim like silver arrows in my hand.”): The specific experience of this immigrant child (“A kid at my school says my dad’s English sounds like a thick, dirty river. But to me his English sounds like gentle rain.”); a hard-working family’s economic hardship (“‘If you got another job why do we still have to fish for food?’ I ask. ‘Everything in America costs a lot of money,’ he explains. I feel callouses on his hand when he squeezes mine.”); bittersweet memory as the boy’s dad recalls fishing at a similar pond as a child in Vietnam with his brother, who died during the war. And running through it all is the boy’s happiness in their time together, a pleasure that extends feelings about his entire family when they gather at day’s end. The evocative art masterfully and movingly conveys details of character, setting, and action while superbly reflecting the warmth and intimacy of the story. At volume’s end, both the author and illustrator share memories of growing up in Vietnamese families that came to the United States when they were children. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, November 27, 2017

Book of the Week: Long Way Down



Long Way Down

by Jason Reynolds
Published by Caitlyn Dlouhy Books / Atheneum, 2017
320 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4814-3825-4
Age 11 and older


Will learned “The Rules” from his older brother, Shawn. No. 1: No crying. No. 2: No snitching. No. 3: Get revenge. When Shawn is shot and killed, Will’s grief is trapped behind a wall of unshed tears. He’s sure he knows who did it: Riggs. And of course he won’t tell the police. Using the gun Shawn kept in his middle drawer, the gun he was never supposed to touch, Will leaves his 8th floor apartment the morning after Shawn’s death. He gets on the elevator at 9:08:02 a.m. Over the next 67 seconds and 234 pages of this taut, tightly paced novel in verse, different rules are broken: the rule in which no one talks on the elevator; and rules of life and death, space and time. On every floor as Will descends someone impossible gets on the elevator. Will knows each one of them, and their conversations—with him, with one another—explore the strange, unreliable honor of The Rules and reveals the cycle of violence they perpetuate. And now it’s Will’s turn to put The Rules into play, to shoot Riggs for killing Shawn. Isn’t it? The final two words of this novel are explosive, inviting discussion about what comes next, but it’s the entirety of Will’s reality-bending, expansive 67-second descent that makes it possible to wonder. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, November 20, 2017

Book of the Week: Bravo! Poems about Amazing Hispanics



Bravo! Poems about Amazing Hispanics

by Margarita Engle
Illustrated by Rafael López
Published by Godwin Books / Henry Holt, 2017
48 pages
ISBN: 978-0805098761

Ages 8-12


“Flight! / I’m the first woman pilot, but I won’t be the last — / every little girl who sees me up here in blue sky / will surely grow up with dreams / of flying too!” (from “The World’s First Woman Pilot,” Aída de Acosta, 1884-1962, Cuba) Biographical poems introduce 18 Hispanics whose lives, notes author Margarita Engle, range from those “celebrated in their lifetimes but have been forgotten by history,” to others who “achieved lasting fame.” Even the shortest poems provide a brief but intriguing sense of their subjects’ lives and accomplishments while nurturing readers’ desire to learn more. Brief biographical “Notes about the Lives” at volume’s end are a starting point for doing just that, while a concluding poem, “More and More Amazing Latinos,” is a treasure trove of additional names—and lives—to learn about. The men and women profiled come from across Latin America and were accomplished in many fields. Gorgeous full-page portraits of each subject incorporate elements of the work for which they were known, while inspired spot illustrations add to the volume’s beauty. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, November 13, 2017

Book of the Week: Little Wolf's First Howling



Little Wolf’s First Howling

by Laura McGee Kvasnosky
Illustrated by Laura McGee Kvasnosky and
    Kate Harvey McGee
Published by Candlewick Press, 2017
24 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7636-8971-1
Ages 3-7


Kvasnosky, Laura McGee. Little Wolf’s First Howling. Illys by Kate Harvey McGee. Candlewick Little Wolf is eager to go out at night with his father, Big Wolf, to learn how to howl. As the moon begins to rise, Big Wolf demonstrates a howl that ends with a lengthy “ooooooooooo.” Little Wolf’s first attempt starts strong but his enthusiasm gets the better of him as he brings it to a close: “I’m hoooowling, ‘oooowling, ‘ooooowling!” Which isn’t, Big Wolf notes, “proper howling form.” Big Wolf demonstrates. Little Wolf tries again. This time, his howl starts strong and ends with a jazzy “dibbity dobbity skibbity skobbity skooo-wooooo-woooooooooooo” Big Wolf praises Little Wolf for many things. “But your howling. It is not proper howling form.” So they try again. This time, Little Wolf’s ending is even more unrestrained. And Big Wolf can’t help it: he starts tail-wagging and ear-twitching and paw-tapping along. Distinctive digitally rendered paintings reminiscent of colored block prints create an inviting backdrop for a story begging to be howled aloud. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, November 6, 2017

Book of the Week: The Stars Beneath Our Feet



The Stars Beneath Our Feet

by David Barclay Moore
Published by Knopf, 2017
294 pages
ISBN: 978-1-5247-0124-6
Ages 9-13


On the edge of young adulthood, Lolly has the support of a hardworking, no nonsense mom and her girlfriend; his dad, who isn’t a daily presence in his life but whose love is never in doubt; staff at the community center; his best friend, Vega. He’s also keenly aware that the freedom with which he moved through Harlem when he was young has changed now that he’s 12; now that he’s eyed by various crews of older boys and young men as being either with them, or against them. The threat feels all the more real since his big brother Jermaine was recently shot and killed, and Lolly’s grief is complicated by the fact his brother, so often his protector, was mad at him for refusing to get involved in Jermaine’s dubious business. But Lolly’s sense of himself and the world and possibilities begins expanding after receiving an architecture book as a gift. Inspired to begin constructing an elaborate city out of Lego bricks, his efforts lead to a surprising new friendship with Rose, a girl most kids shun, who is navigating struggles of her own, and to exploring the real places pictured in the book. Lolly, his family, friends, and neighbors are vivid and alive in a story featuring exceptional characterizations and dialogue. The complexities of family and friendships come into full relief in a story celebrating the power of creativity and community in a child’s life. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, October 30, 2017

Book of the Week: Herbert's First Halloween



Herbert’s First Halloween

by Cynthia  Rylant
Illustrated by Steven Henry
Published by Chronicle, 2017
28 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4521-2533-6
Ages 3-6


Herbert is a little pig who “was not so sure about Halloween.” Herbert’s dad loves Halloween, however. When Herbert decides he wants to be a tiger his dad measures Herbert and sews ears, tail, paws, and claws while Herbert practices his roar. Herbert’s dad carves a smiling-faced pumpkin they name Jack, and tells Herbert about the candy. “You will need a bucket …. A big one.” Herbert’s dad is gently reassuring, helping Herbert navigate his uncertainty throughout a warm story that follows Herbert through his first night of trick-or-treating. “Herbert roared many tiger thank-yous.” Muted illustrations echo the narrative’s understated charm. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, October 23, 2017

Book of the Week: When Dimple Met Rishi



When Dimple Met Rishi

by Sandhya Menon
Published by SimonPulse, 2017
380 pages pages
ISBN: 978-1-4814-7868-7
Age 12 and older


Teenage Dimple Shah loves coding and wants to be an app designer. She’s not interested in having a boyfriend, let alone thinking about getting married, something her traditional Indian parents can’t understand. Rishi Patel embraces traditional Indian values, respects his parents and their opinions, and wants to make them happy. When Dimple and Rishi’s parents decide that the two would be a good match, Rishi embraces the idea—he likes everything he’s learned about Dimple—and agrees to attend the same summer app development program for high school students that Dimple is going to. He’s unaware Dimple knows nothing about the informal arrangements their parents have made for their lives after college. It’s the perfect setup for this romantic comedy with a Bollywood flair (sans singing—although they do dance!) when Dimple, angry and appalled by what Rishi tells her when they meet, finds herself thrown together on a project at the camp and they (inevitably) fall in love. This delightful novel told in third-person chapters alternating between them is more than just fun and romance, although it offers plenty of both. As a young woman of color, Dimple navigates sexism and racism during her time at tech camp while also being keenly aware that most campers, including Rishi, are from wealthy families, while Dimple has little money to spend or spare. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center