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    War and the Aftermath

    By Sandip Wilson and Carolyn Angus
     | Nov 12, 2018

    From picture books to novels, the offerings in this week’s column explore war and its impact on everyday lives. Some of the books deal with events and people in past wars or present-day conflicts around the world, while others consider war and its aftermath in general terms. The books approach the experiences and effects of war from various perspectives and are rich resources for encouraging discussion in classrooms.

    Ages 4–8

    The Day War Came. Nicola Davies. Ill. Rebecca Cobb. 2018. Candlewick.

    The Day War CameA young girl tells how she was in school on the day war came. “At first, just like a spattering of hail, / a voice of thunder . . . / then all smoke and fire and noise that I didn’t understand.” War is shown as an engulfing black cloud in Cobb’s expressive illustrations (done in pencil, colored pencil, and watercolor) as the girl moves through rubble to what was once her home. “War took everything. / War took everyone.” After making a long journey to a refugee camp, she discovers a school in the nearby town, but is turned away. There is no room for her. No chair for her to sit on. In despair, she huddles in a hut, until a boy offers a chair for her so that she can join his class. In an author’s note, Davies recounts an event in the U.K. that inspired this poetic story of a refugee child.
    —CA

    Marwan's Journey. Patricia de Arias. Ill. Laura Borràs. 2018.  Minedition.

    Marwan's Journey“I walk. . . / and I don’t know / when I will get there, / or where I am going.” A young boy named Marwan tells the story of his long, arduous journey crossing a desert sustained by dreams in which his mother says, “Marwan, keep going, walk, and walk, and walk” and by memories of his family and home before the night soldiers came “and swallowed up everything: / my house, my garden, my homeland.” With Patricia de Arias’ lyrical text and Laura Borràs’ striking ink and watercolor-wash illustration, this picture book is a child-friendly story of the world’s refugee crisis that ends with the boy’s arrival in another country, along with the hundreds of people with whom he has walked in “a line of humans like ants / crossing the desert.” For Marwan the future is uncertain, but he remains hopeful that one day he will be able to return to his homeland. 
    —CA

    Mustafa. Marie-Louise Gay. 2018. Groundwood/House of Anansi.

    Mustafa“Mustafa and his family traveled a very, very long way to get to their new country,” and he still has dreams of the war they fled. In this gentle story about a young refugee beginning to feel welcomed in his new home, Gay’s detailed, brightly colored, mixed-media illustrations show Mustafa exploring in the park near his apartment where he sees things that remind him of his old country but also feels invisible as he watches other children play. And then one day, the “girl-with-a-cat” who once spoke to him with words he could not understand, makes a come-with-me sign with her hand and takes him to the playground where they swing together. They introduce themselves—Ma-ri-a and Mus-ta-fa— and Mustafa doesn’t feel invisible anymore.
    —CA

    Ages 9–11

    Lifeboat 12: Based on a True Story. Susan Hood. 2018. Simon & Schuster.

    Lifeboat 12In the summer of 1940, with London increasingly threatened by German bombings, the parents of 13-year-old Ken Sparks take advantage of a program to send him to Canada aboard the SS City of Benares, a passenger liner sailing in a convoy. Although sad to be leaving London, Ken is in the company of 89 children and delighted with the shipboard amenities and abundant food. When the liner is torpedoed about 600 miles from England, however, the adventure turns life threatening as the children scramble for lifeboats as the ship sinks. Based on a true story, Susan Hood’s suspenseful novel in verse recounts the survivors’ endurance of eight days at sea before they are rescued and returned to the U.K. The back matter includes extensive notes on facts behind Lifeboat 12, Hood’s sources and research, and archival photographs of people and details depicted in the novel.
    —SW

    A Story Like the Wind. Gill Lewis. Ill. Jo Weaver. 2018. Eerdmans.

    A Story Like the Wind“In a small boat, with a small hope, in a rising wind, on a rising sea,” 14-year-old Rami uses his violin, the one thing that he could not leave behind when he fled the soldiers, to share a story with fellow passengers. It is the old story of a white stallion who raced like the wind and refused to be tamed by the Dark Lord and how the instrument called the morin khuur, the horsehead fiddle, was made to keep the story alive. Gill Lewis’ lyrical short novel, enriched by Jo Weaver’s expressive monochrome charcoal illustrations, is a moving and memorable story of shared remembrances and the hope for safety and freedom of six Middle Eastern refugees adrift at sea in a rubber dingy on a dark and windy night.
    —CA

    Winnie’s Great War. Lindsay Mattick & Josh Greenhut. Ill. Sophie Blackall. 2018. Little, Brown.

    Winnie's Great WArIn 1914, when veterinarian Harry Colebourn travels east from Winnipeg on his way to the European front of World War I, he purchases a bear cub at the railroad station in White River, Ontario, from a hunter. And so begins the fabled life of Winnie, mascot of the Second Cavalry Infantry Brigade, in this whimsical novel written by Lindsay Mattick, Colebourn’s great granddaughter, and Josh Greenhut and illustrated with Sophie Blackall’s charming ink drawings. Winnie remains with the brigade until the men’s trench-warfare training in England, when a commanding general decides to use Winnie as a bomb-sniffing bear. Colebourn donates the bear to the London zoo, where she lives for more than 20 years and meets the son of A. A. Milne. Back matter includes archival photographs, entries from Harry Colebourn’s diary, and an author's note.
    —SW  

    Ages 12–14

    Escape from Aleppo. N. H. Senzai. 2018. Simon & Schuster. 

    Escape from AleppoIn 2013, 15-year-old Nadia and her family live under the constant threat of bombing of their Aleppo neighborhood. When their apartment is bombed, Nadia is separated from her family and she sets out on her own to escape to Turkey with hopes of being reunited with them. She learns to trust Ammo Mazan, a mysterious, elderly man and two destitute boys she meets, who help her get past thieves and through checkpoints and areas of continued bombing. In this suspenseful novel about courage and friendship, Nadia learns of Mazan’s underground work with scholars, government workers, and military officers to save and conserve Syrian cultural relics from destruction and the black market. An author’s note includes background information about events in the novel.
    —SW

    Nowhere Boy. Katherine Marsh. 2018. Roaring Brook.

    Nowhere BoyFourteen-year-old Ahmed, an unaccompanied refugee from Syria, has been living in Parc Maximilien in Brussels with other refugee families, but when the park is closed and a   smuggler steals his money and cell phone, Ahmed must scramble to find shelter. He hides in a complex of rooms in the cellar of a house, where 13-year-old Max and his family, visiting from America for a year, have taken residence. Max befriends Ahmed, and secretly, with his one friend and a boy who had bullied him, helps Ahmed achieve his deepest wishes, to go to school and to find his father in a country increasingly tense following terrorist bombings. In this suspenseful novel of friendship and unexpected heroes, Ahmed and Max discover courage and resourcefulness. The end matter includes a conversation with author Katherine Marsh, a resident of Brussels, in which she discusses her inspiration and experiences related to the refugee crisis that helped to shape the novel.
    —SW

    The War Outside. Monica Hesse. 2018. Little, Brown.

    The War OutsideIn 1944, Japanese–American Haruko, whose family is from Denver, and German–American Margot, whose family were farmers in Iowa, find each other in Crystal City, Texas, in an internment camp built to house Japanese, German, and Italian families. The two girls, who live in separate parts of the camp, face their doubts and suspicion of one another at school, but during a dust storm they seek shelter together in the ice house, which becomes their meeting place as they develop a secret friendship. However, Haruko believes her father is hiding a secret and Margot discovers her father’s Nazi sympathies, and after an accident at the community pool strains relationships among the residents, their friendship becomes increasingly tenuous in this novel of love and heartbreak. Back matter includes an informative “Note on Historical Accuracy” by the author.
    —SW

    Ages 15+

    The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees. Don Brown. 2018. Houghton Mifflin.

    The Unwanted StoriesUsing a graphic-novel format of panels of full-color artwork, blocks of text, and dialogue balloons, award-winning author/illustrator Don Brown effectively weaves together stories of refugees of the Syrian Civil War, which began in March 2011 as a revolution to overthrow the regime of President Bashar-al-Assad. In the intervening years, millions of people have fled the conflict and overwhelmed neighboring countries, while countless more have made desperate escapes to Europe. In a postscript, Brown addresses how the Syrian refugee crisis has “sparked a present-day backlash against immigration of all kinds and upended politics across the globe.” Back matter for this informative book that keeps the focus on the refugee experience includes Brown’s notes on his firsthand visits to refugee camps, source notes, an extensive bibliography, and the evocative poem, “Hope Behind the Shadow of Pain!” by Sahir Noah, and the painting, “Hope” by Salam Noah.
    —CA

    Sandip LeeAnne Wilson serves as professor in the School of Education and the English Department of Husson University, Bangor, Maine. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

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    Celebrating Poetry

    By Mary Napoli, Lesley Colabucci, and Skye Hisiro
     | Nov 05, 2018

    In this column, we share several new selections of poetry that provide opportunities for interdisciplinary connections. Poetry functions as both a format and a genre in these books. Novels in verse with inviting stories are included alongside poetry collections, some of which have an informational focus. There’s something for everyone when reading and sharing poetry.

    Ages 4–8

    Bully on the Bus. Kathryn Apel. 2018. Kane Miller.

    Bully on the BusSeven-year-old Leroy loves reading, playing, and being one of Mrs. Wilson’s Superkids. He hates riding the bus to school because DJ, a high school student who says school is “for dummies,” physically and verbally accosts him. Each school day Leroy worries, “What will the bully do today?” and doesn’t understand why no one intervenes. Neither the elderly bus driver nor his older sister, Ruby, a fifth grader, can stop DJ’s bullying. Despite the bully's attempts to silence him with threats of worse to come, Leroy finds the courage to confide his feelings to his parents and teacher. Remembering their advice and armed with a secret weapon, he’s prepared to stand up to the bully on the bus. Reading this short chapter book in verse is a good opener for discussion of the issue of bullying.
    —MN

    A Round of Robins. Katie Hesterman. Ill. Sergio Ruzzier. 2018. Nancy Paulsen/Penguin.

    A Round of RobinsKatie Hesterman offers young readers 16 delightful poems about a family of robins. Mama Robin is the “architect” who collects materials to build a nest. “It’s guaranteed a perfect fit / So all she has to do is sit,” waiting for “Four little ones all set to hatch— / An up-and-coming birdie batch.” The poems important milestones: the four eggs hatch, the fledglings grow, they learn to fly and find worms, and the siblings finally venture out on their own. Mama now builds a new nest and lays four more eggs. Sergio Ruzzier’s lighthearted pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations give the robins anthropomorphic facial expressions. This debut collection of poems about the robin’s life cycle will soar off the shelves.
    —MN

    Vivid: Poems and Notes About Color.  Julie Paschkis. 2018. Godwin/Henry Holt.

    Vivid - CopyJulie Paschkis playfully pairs paintings with poems and informational notes to explore color. Spreads pay tribute to yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, indigo, blue, green, brown, white, and black, ending with the poem “Rainbow.” Paschkis’ vibrant gouache paintings express the many depths and shades of color and complement her frolicsome poems, which are rich with descriptive language. “Loudly, rowdy / daffodils yell hello. / Hot yellow.” Her verses also employ wordplay to reveal associated emotions. “Oh, what did I do? / Blue-hoo, / Blue-hoo!” Text boxes present notes on the origins and meanings of color names and fascinating tidbits about the colors. An author’s note provides basic information on the science of color and the perception of colors by humans and different animals.
    —SH

    Ages 9–11

    Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship. Irene Latham & Charles Waters. Ill. Sean Qualls & Selina Alko. 2018. Carolrhoda/Lerner.

    Can I Touch Your HairIrene Latham and Charles Waters collaborate on a series of thought-provoking,dueling poems about race and human connection. The poems are written from the perspectives of two fifth graders, Irene (who is white) and Charles (who is black). Within the first poem set, the reader discovers their reluctance to work together when they are assigned to be partners on a poetry writing project. However, as the poems progress, they begin to realize their similar interests and to understand their differences, and a special bond begins to form. “Sometimes we say the wrong thing, sometimes we misunderstand. / Now we listen, we ask questions. We are so much more than black and white!” The expressive illustrations, rendered in acrylic paint, colored pencil, and collage, reinforce the understanding and friendship that come through Irene and Charles’ communication during the project.
    —SH

    Leaf Litter Critters. Leslie Bulion. Ill. Robert Meganck. 2018. Peachtree.

    Leaf Litter Critters - CopyLeslie Bulion presents 19 clever poems about some of the microscopic critters and organisms at work in leaf litter ecosystems. Did you know that rotifers are the “smallest multicellular animals” or that nematodes are “food for soil predators”? Each spread includes a lively poem accompanied by informative and accessible “Science Notes” and colorful, comic-style illustrations about the decomposers and recyclers that comprise the world’s “brown food web.” The extensive back matter includes a glossary, poetry notes about the different forms (free verse, cinquain, clerihew, and more) that Bulion uses, hands on “investigator” activities, resources for further investigation, and a final illustration that shows the relative size of the leaf litter critters to the head of a pin. Reading aloud this collection of interest-catching poems and science notes is the perfect way to spark further inquiries about “leaf litter critters” and to make interdisciplinary connections between science and poetry in the classroom.
    MN

    Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World. Susan Hood. 2018. HarperCollins.

    Shaking Things Up Susan Hood plays with free verse, rhyme, font variety, text alignment, and repetition in her poetry collection about 14 young female “movers and shakers.” Each inspirational figure is featured on a spread. Titles such as “Secret Agent Sisters” (about Jacqueline and Eileen Nearne) and “Books, Not Bullets” (about Malala Yousafzai) will ignite curiosity and draw readers in. Poems (written in various formats from narrative poetry, to acrostic, to shape poems) and brief biographical notes are paired with full-page illustrations featuring the young women by different female illustrators and notable quotes. Back matter includes an author’s note as well as additional information and resources about the 14 women included in the text.
    —SH                                                                     

    Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy. Tony Medina. 2018. Penny Candy Books.

    Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black BoyThe poems in this collection are accompanied by illustrations by 13 different artists, including Euka Holmes, Floyd Cooper, Javaka Steptoe, and R. Gregory Christie. Touching on themes such as family, religion, community, poverty, and pride, the intent of the book is to affirm and empower African American youth. The “thirteen ways of looking at a black boy” are explored in tanka poems, which work both as singular poems and as a collective piece. Back matter includes brief biographies of poet Tony Medina and each illustrator and information about the inspiration for the title, tanka, and setting (Anacostia, the historically black neighborhood of Washington, DC).
    —LC

    Ages 12–14

    Missing Mike. Shari Green. 2018. Pajama Press.

    Missing MikeSet in Canada, this novel in verse tells the story of 11-year-old Cara, whose beloved dog Mike goes missing when the family evacuates due to a wildfire. Cara’s sadness is palpable, and her descriptions of the setting are moving. “Ever since smoke moved in / and draped the world / in gloomy gray / it hasn’t felt like July / even though the heat / and school vacation / said it was.”  Cara can’t stop worrying about Mike. Readers learn how Mike came to live with Cara and what her life was like before the wildfire. The heart of this story is whether or not Cara will be reunited with Mike, if he’s survived the wildfire. It’s is also a story about the meaning of home as Cara, who is obsessed with crossword puzzles, reflects on all the different words she learns for home while living through the wildfire. These varied ways of thinking about home are key to Cara and her community’s survival.  
    —LC

    World Make Way: New Poems Inspired by Art from the Metropolitan Museum. Lee Bennett Hopkins (Ed.). 2018. Abrams.

    World Make Way This impressive collection of ekphrastic poems by 18 contemporary children’s poets, inspired by works of art on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is a true celebration of the transformative power of art and words. On each spread, readers will draw inspiration from the poetic interpretation appearing alongside a famous work of art. The synergetic interplay between art and poetry will ignite further reflection and emotional response. The book is introduced with a quote from Leonardo Da Vinci—“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen”—and an informative foreword by editor Lee Bennett Hopkins. Back matter includes notes about the poets and artists, credits for the poetry and works of art, and an index. Teachers may want to encourage students to further explore writing inspired by art.
    —MN

    Ages 15+

    For Every One, Jason Reynolds. 2018. Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    For Every One For Every One is a combination poem and letter by Jason Reynolds that speaks directly to young people, more specifically to young dreamers and young writers. “Dreams don’t have timelines, / deadlines, /and aren’t always in / straight lines.” The tone is reflective and conversational, and readers will feel like he is speaking directing to them. The front endpaper includes repeated “To:” and “From:” lines, suggesting readers pass the book along. Typography is manipulated throughout the book; the poems are presented in a font that looks like they have been typewritten while the titles and interludes have more of a hand-lettered look with shaded backgrounds. The book does seem ideal for gift giving at times of great accomplishment such as graduations, but the poems are not nostalgic or overly sentimental. Instead, they are honest and complicated in a way that teenagers will resonate with teenagers.
    —LC

    Mary Napoli is an associate professor at Penn State Harrisburg, where she coordinates the Master of Education in Literacy Education program and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in children’s literature and literacy methods. Lesley Colabucci is an associate professor of Early, Middle, and Exceptional Education at Millersville University of Pennsylvania. She teaches classes in children’s literature at the graduate and undergraduate level. Her research interests include multicultural children’s literature and responses to literature. Skye Hisiro is an elementary classroom teacher in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and a recent graduate from Penn State Harrisburg’s Master of Education in Literacy Education program.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

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    Books From Down Under

    By Chelsey Bahlmann Bollinger and Carolyn Angus
     | Oct 29, 2018

    In this week’s column we feature books that originated in Australia and New Zealand. Some of these books aim to increase awareness and understanding of the history and culture of these countries while others introduce students to authors and illustrators from “Down Under” whose stories are imaginative and full of fun and adventure.

    Ages 4–8

    Archie and the Bear. Zanni Louise. Ill. David Mackintosh. 2018. Clarion/Houghton Mifflin.

    Archie and the Bear 2When people tell a small boy named Archie they like his bear suit, he growls, “It’s not a suit. I am a bear!” Angrily stomping off deep into the forest one day, Archie comes across a huge black bear dressed in a red sweater. When the bear greets him with a friendly hello, Archie says, “I like your boy suit.” The bear growls, “It’s not a suit. I am a boy!” Mackintosh’s imaginative use of perspective in the mixed-media illustrations exaggerates the size difference between Archie and the bear as the two spend the day together—with Archie sharing “bear” things and the bear sharing “boy” things. By nightfall, they realize that boys and bears enjoy many of the same things in the warm and cozy ending to this friendship story.
    —CA

    Heads and Tails. John Canty. 2018. Candlewick.

    Heads and TailsWould you be able to correctly guess an animal after seeing only its tail? Clever clues and watercolor illustrations invite readers to sharpen their creature-identification skills in this guessing game picture book. With a turn of the page, the front end of the animal is revealed along with its name. Featured animals include a rabbit, snake, fish, rhinoceros, elephant, tortoise, cat, crocodile, giraffe, fox, frog, and kangaroo.
    —CA

    I Just Ate My Friend. Heidi McKinnon. 2018. Simon & Schuster. 

    I Just Ate My Friend

    In author/illustrator Heidi McKinnon’s debut picture book, a hulky, yellow-speckled monster with big round eyes remorsefully admits to having just eaten his friend. In search of a new friend, the monster begins to realize that a new friend may be hard to come by as the various animals he meets consider him too big or too scary. In an unexpected turn of events, the story comes full circle when he thinks he’s found a new friend at last. McKinnon’s text is minimal, which requires that readers pay close attention to facial expressions to understand the emotions that are integral to the story.
    —CBB  

    I’m an Immigrant Too! Mem Fox. Ill. Ronojoy Ghosh. Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster.

    I'm an Immigrant Too!With a simple rhyming text and colorful illustrations, Fox and Ghosh invite young children to visit their home country and hear from children who have stories to tell about how they came to Australia. Including families from Ireland in 1849 to recent refugees from Somalia, Afghanistan, and Syria, this picture book is a glorious celebration of how immigrants have enriched the cultural diversity of Australia. The book ends with a young refugee still seeking asylum in Australia, which serves as a reminder of present-day immigration issue throughout the world. The book opens with a “Where We Came From” map and ends with a “Where We Live Now” map.
    —CA

    Welcome to Country: A Traditional Aboriginal Ceremony. Aunty Joy Murphy . Ill. Lisa Kennedy. 2018. Candlewick.

    Welcome to CountryAunty Joy Murphy's first book provides an insider perspective of the Wurundjeri people as readers are invited to a traditional welcome ceremony. (The Wurundjeri people show respect for Murphy and other elders by calling them Aunty or Uncle.) During the ceremony, readers learn that Bunjil the eagle created the people, animals, and landforms and watches over the both the living and the dead of this Aboriginal culture. As part of the welcome ceremony, Murphy invites us, as visitors, to take and accept a white river gum leaf as long as we promise to give back what we take from the land. Illustrator Lisa Kennedy uses acrylic on canvas to depict the vibrant, lush, and welcoming land of the Wurundjeri people.
    —CBB

    Ages 9–11

    A Is for Australian Animals. Frané Lessac. 2018. Candlewick.

    A Is for Australian AnimalsDid you know that, although the Irukandji jellyfish is one of the most poisonous creatures in the world, the leatherback turtle  is one of the few animals not affected by their venom? This is just one of the fascinating facts about the amazing diversity of Australian animals in this alphabet book. Lessac’s colorful, gouache, folk art-inspired illustrations depict the animals in their natural habitats. A Is for Australian Animals can be enjoyed in one sitting or in small bursts. The final page includes maps of animal distribution for the animals featured in the book.
    —CBB

    Cook’s Cook: The Cook Who Cooked for Captain Cook. Gavin Bishop. 2018. Gecko.

    Cook's CookHMS Endeavour was the British Royal Navy research vessel that Lieutenant James Cook commanded during a scientific expedition to the South Seas from 1768 to 1771.  In 1770, Endeavour became the first ship to reach the east coast of Australia at Botany Bay. Gavin Bishop’s account of the voyage is told from the perspective of John Thompson, the ship’s one-handed cook. Through short entries in his cook’s log, Thompson provides updates on where the Endeavor is and events occurring on the voyage. The text also includes some of his recipes for feeding the crew (including pease porridge, albatross, and even dog and breadfruit stew), techniques for combating scurvy, and other trials and tribulations of such a long journey in close quarters. Bishop’s richly detailed illustrations, created in watercolor and acrylic ink, depict diagrams of the ship, portraits of the explorers and crew, recipe cards, places visited, and a map on the back endpaper of the route of the voyage.
    —CBB

    The 91-Story Treehouse(Treehouse Books #7). Andy Griffiths. Ill. Terry Denton. 2018. Feiwel and Friends.

    The 91-Story TreehouseAndy and Terry’s 91-story treehouse is not just any old treehouse. There’s a tent with a fortune teller named Madame Know-It-All, a submarine sandwich shop that makes sandwiches the size of an actual submarine, and a big red button (they aren’t sure what it does), along with various other imaginative features that they keep adding. When Andy and Terry’s publisher, Mr. Big Nose, asks then to babysit his three grandchildren, they agree but are so overly focused on writing a new book that they forget about babysitting and lose the children in the treehouse.  After a series of unfortunate (and hilarious) events, they find out the function of the big red button. The end of the book encourages readers to interact even further with word searches, crosswords, web links, and other puzzles.
    —CBB                                                                                                                                                                                                      

    Ages 12–14

    The Red Fox Clan (Ranger’s Apprentice: The Royal Ranger #2). John Flanagan. 2018. Philomel/Penguin.

    The Red Fox ClanAfter completing her third year as a Ranger’s apprentice, Princess Madelyne (Maddie), the Royal Ranger, is eager to continue training under Ranger Will Treaty, but must first make her annual visit to Araluen. She’ll be happy to see her mother, Princess Regent Cassandra, and her father, Horace, but is not looking forward to the boredom of castle life, where she must keep her apprenticeship a secret. Maddie unexpectedly becomes involved with protecting Araluen Castle against attack by the Red Fox Clan, anarchists who want to overturn the present law of succession and return to a patriarchal system. Master storyteller John Flanagan continues his second book in this spinoff series with the same level of fast-paced adventure found in earlier books in his bestselling epic Ranger’s Apprentice series. 
    —CA

    Ages 15+

    The Stars at Oktober Bend. Glenda Millard. 2018. Candlewick.

    The Stars at Oktober BendFifteen-year-old Alice is a writer. At the age of 12 she was a victim of horrific violence and now her words come out slow and slurred. Glenda Millard captures Alice’s first-person narrative through short, staccato sentences and lack of capitalization. Manny, a refugee from Sierra Leone who was once a child soldier, finds the poems Alice writes in the most unexpected places around town and falls in love with her before he even meets her. This story is written from the perspectives of Alice and Manny, with voices differentiated through different fonts and sentence structure. The Stars at Oktober Bend is a thought-provoking young adult novel about two broken young people who find love.
    —CBB


    Tales From the Inner City.
    Shaun Tan. 2018. Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic.

    Tales From the Inner CityAuthor/illustrator Shaun Tan’s Tales from the Inner City is a highly imaginative book of illustrated short stories and poems in which wild and domestic animals live together with humans in urban settings. As always, the language of Shaun Tan’s storytelling is elegant and his surreal paintings are haunting and thought-provoking. Tan’s first sentences, such as “Where money gathers, so do pigeons,” these grab the attention of readers, making them eager to find out how each story unfolds in words and visual images.
    —CA

    Chelsey M. Bahlmann Bollinger is an assistant professor in the Early, Elementary, and Reading Department at James Madison University, in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

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    The Magic of Words and Books

    By Laura Cutler and Carolyn Angus
     | Oct 22, 2018

    This week’s column includes some recently published books that explore the magic of words and inspire creative wordplay. Other books celebrate the joy that comes from listening to and reading books as well as the importance of libraries and bookshops in our lives.

    Ages 4–8

    A Busy Creature's Day Eating!: An Alphabetical Smorgasbord. 
    Mo Willems. 2018. Hyperion.

    A Busy Creature's Day Eating!In Mo Willems’ outrageously funny picture book, a purple creature eats various edible (apples, berries, cereal) and nonedible (jacket, kilt, lunch box) items in alphabetical order. By the letter P, the creature feels ill and turns green from all the eating. The rest of the letters of the alphabet are depicted as remedies to soothe the creature’s tummy troubles. This clever spin on the traditional alphabet book, with Willems’ colorful cartoon illustrations and iconic frame-by-frame format, takes young readers on a humorous eating escapade—and comes with a warning: “Do not try this at home!” 
    —LC  

    The Great Dictionary Caper. Judy Sierra. Ill. Eric Comstock. 2018. Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster.

    The Great Dictionary CaperThis playful story introduces readers to Noah Webster, writer of the first dictionary of American English. A linguistic adventure unfolds when Webster’s words decide to take a break and escape across the story pages. The anthropomorphized letters and words are grouped together to teach various language concepts—from the onomatopoeia marching band to mirrored anagrams and hide-and-seek antonyms. The digitally rendered cartoon illustrations make the words in this book come alive. Leap is shown leaping across the page, little is drawn as a tiny insect, and big fills the whole page. An appended glossary provides definitions for language-related terms used in the book.
    —LC

    An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin & Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution. Beth Anderson. Ill. Elizbeth Baddeley. 2018. Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster.

    An Inconvenient AlphabetBen Franklin thought people should spell words by writing the sounds they hear. He created a new alphabet, eliminating letters that didn’t match sounds and adding some new ones so that each letter had its own. Noah Webster thought people should say the sounds that were written and wrote Blue-Backed Speller to teach American English focusing on pronunciation. Franklin and Webster’s meeting in 1786 launched a spelling revolution that eventually led to Webster’s 1806 publication of his American Dictionary of the English Language, which included many of his spelling changes and thousands of new words. Readers will enjoy spotting the cat and dog that join Franklin and Webster in promoting the usage of a standardized American English in the humorous illustrations.
    —CA

    Sylvia’s Bookshop: The Story of Paris’s Beloved Bookstore and Its Founder (As Told by the Bookstore Itself!). Robert Burleigh. Ill. Katy Wu. 2018. Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster.

    Sylvia's BookshopA bookshop narrates the history of Shakespeare and Company and the passionate book lover who made it into a "magical" gathering place for writers and thinkers. Katy Wu’s colorful, digitally rendered illustrations complement Robert Burleigh’s rhyming text to celebrate this special bookshop. Back matter includes a “Hurrah for Books and Bookstores!” note, information on Sylvia Beach (1897–1962) and Shakespeare and Company, and brief biographical sketches on writers and artists (mentioned only by their first names in the story)—Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Janet Flanner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Simone de Beauvoir, and Man Ray—who gathered at Shakespeare and Company.
    —CA

    The Wall in the Middle of the Book. Jon Agee. 2018. Dial/Penguin.

    The Wall in the Middle of the BookJon Agee erects a brick wall in this book’s gutter as a clever way to separate one side of the book from the other. A small knight is happy to be safe on his side of the wall, away from the wild animals and the ogre who live on the other side. When the knight’s side begins to fill with water, he begins to realize his side might not be so terrific. Luckily, the ogre reaches over the wall and plucks the knight to his side, which turns out to be a good thing for him (as readers will know from seeing the fish in the water on the side that he’s just been rescued from being devoured by larger and larger fish with each turn of a page). Agee’s playful use of the gutter takes a functional aspect of a book’s structure and turns it into a focal point for the story being told. 
    —LC

    Ages 9–11

    Bookjoy, Wordjoy. Pat Mora. Ill. Raul Colón. 2018. Lee & Low.

    Bookjoy WordjoyPat Mora’s introduction to Bookjoy, Wordjoy ends with an enthusiastic invitation: “Let’s read, let’s write, let’s explore galore!” Her collection of 14 poems, paired with Raul Colón’s expressive illustrations, rendered in watercolor and colored pencil, explore the fun of collecting words and using them in our speaking and writing and the pleasure of listening to, reading, and sharing books. An appended “Note to Educators and Families” includes a reminder that learning should be a mix of work and play, and that too often the reading and writing experiences of children involve “the work and not the play, the wordjoy”
    —CA

    The Bookshop Girl. Sylvia Bishop. Ill. Poly Bernatene. 2018. Peachtree.

    The Bookshop GirlEleven-year-old Property Jones, whose unique name comes from being left in the lost property cupboard at the bookstore when she was a young child, loves living in the White Hart bookshop. Netty Jones and her son Michael, the shop owners who adopted Property, remain unaware of her secret. Property doesn’t know how to read. When the Jones’ win a contest to become the new owners of the Great Montgomery Book Emporium, they close their used bookstore and arrive at the Emporium. They are delighted by the expansive bookshop and its rotating rooms, each dedicated to a different genre, but are quickly left to their own devices when the previous owner, Albert H. Montgomery, hastily departs. The Jones family soon discovers the reason for Montgomery’s swift disappearance and with the help of Property’s keen observational skills, solve the mystery that threatens to destroy their fantastic British bookshop.
    —LC

    Eat Your Words: A Fascinating Look at the Language of Food. Charlotte Foltz Jones. Ill. John O’Brien. 2018. Delacorte/Random House.

    Eat Your WordsCharlotte Foltz Jones serves ups a tasty treat of a book on the language of foods, “a shopping list of curious food etymology, and a menu of the origins of funny-sounding food.” Each of the eight chapters includes examples, John O’Brien’s clever black-and-white cartoons, fun facts, and a “Food for Thought” section. There are entries on foods named for people (such as Beef Stroganoff and Eggs Benedict), foods with place-related names (such as Baked Alaska and Buffalo Wings), a “Talking Turkey” chapter of common food-related sayings (such as “eat humble pie,” “spill the beans,” and “sell like hotcakes”), and more. Readers will find themselves savoring the entire book.
    —CA

    Thomas Paine and the Dangerous Word. Sarah Jane Marsh. Ill. Edwin Fotheringham. 2018. Hyperion.

    Thomas Paine and the Dangerous WordsThis engaging picture book biography of Thomas Paine (1737–1809) includes an abundance of words, phrases, and sentences from British-born wordsmith Paine’s writings that are hand-lettered and incorporated into Edwin Fotheringham’s digital artwork. After immigrating to the American colonies in 1774, Paine, a persuasive debater and writer, became a powerful voice for independence with his pamphlet Common Sense. Back matter includes author Sarah Marsh’s notes on Thomas Paine’s The American Crisis, the first of 13 essays urging support of the war; publication of Paine’s political views throughout his life; and the legacy of his continued influence and inspiration of America’s leaders, as well as a timeline, bibliography, and source notes for quotations.
    —CA

    Ages 12–14

    The Lost Books: The Scroll of Kings. Sarah Prineas. 2018. HarperCollins.

    The Lost BooksEscaping the military aspirations set forth for him by his father, 15-year-old Alex becomes an apprentice librarian. When the master librarian he is serving mysteriously dies, Alex assumes his role and becomes royal librarian at the castle of Queen Kenneret. Alex soon learns of the deaths of several other librarians in neighboring kingdoms, and his suspicions surrounding his own master’s death are confirmed. Someone, or something, is killing royal librarians. When he discovers that certain books are alive and may be responsible for the librarians’ deaths, Alex sets outs to solve the mystery of the Lost Books that are hidden deep within the royal libraries. This fast-paced fantasy novel leaves readers wondering where Alex’s adventures might take him next.
    —LC

    What a Wonderful Word: A Collection of Untranslatable Words from Around the World. Nicola Edwards. Ill. Luisa Uribe. 2018. Kane/Miller.

    What a Wonderful WordDiving into this collection of 30 words from around the world that have no one-word translations is the perfect way for word lovers to expand their collections of words. Each entry in this beautifully formatted book includes a block of text, including a word, its language of origin, a “translation” into English, it usage, and some facts about the culture, paired with a colorful painting. For example, koyaanisqatsi (Hopi) is translated as “Nature that is out of balance or a way of life that is so crazy it cannot continue long-term,” and on a humorous note, pålegg (Norwegian) is translated as “Anything and everything you can put on a slice of bread.” A pronunciation guide is appended.
    —CA

    Ages 15+

    Dictionary Stories: Short Fictions and Other Findings. Jez Burrows. 2018. HarperCollins.

    Dictionary StoriesJez Burrow’s has created an intriguing way of playing with words while exploring a dictionary. Dictionary Stories includes 150 short “stories” composed entirely of example sentences from 12 dictionaries, including the New Oxford American Dictionary, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, and Collins Primary Learner’s Dictionary. Burrow’s introduction includes “The Rules” for making small edits to the example sentences in the dictionary stories that are written in a variety of forms (fantasies, eulogies, lists, math problems, and more) and arranged alphabetically by topic. For example, under Education, “Sample Problems: Intermediate Mathematics for Poets” includes mind-boggling word problems such as, “What do you get if you multiply 6 by 9 with gay abandon?” 
    —CA

    Laura Cutler is a PhD student in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Delaware. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

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    Boo! Spooky Stories

    By Carrie Thomas and Carolyn Angus
     | Oct 15, 2018

    As Halloween nears, readers of all ages enjoy listening to and reading stories about witches, ghosts, monsters, and other creepy creatures. This week’s column includes slightly spooky stories for younger readers and terrifying tales for older readers. Give students a special treat by sharing these recently published books alongside classic Halloween tales.

    Ages 4–8

    Bone Soup: A Spooky Tasty Tale. Alyssa Satin Capucilli. Ill. Tom Knight. 2018. Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster.

    Bone SoupIn this retelling of the folktale “Stone Soup,” Knight uses lush colors to illustrate the friendly monster, ghost, vampire, mummy, skeleton, and other creatures who fill the cauldron of three little witches with spooky ingredients to make a tasty soup. Capucilli fills the book with humorous descriptive language like “wrinkliest of prunes” and “slimy sludge” that make  reading this book a treat. The repeated words and phrases will appeal to beginning readers. A recipe for bone soup is included so children and their caregivers can make their own tasty Halloween treat.
    —CT

    Ghoulia (Ghoulia #1). Barbara Cantini. Trans. Anna Golding. 2018. Amulet/Abrams.

    GhouliaThis first book in a series imported from Italy, with ghoulishly detailed Tim Burton-style illustrations, introduces Ghoulia, “a perfectly normal zombie girl,” and the other residents of Crumbling Manor, including Tragedy (her albino greyhound), Auntie Departed, Shadow (Auntie’s cat), Uncle Misfortune (actually, just his head), and Grandad Coffin (a ghost). When Ghoulia overhears some children talking about dressing up in scary costumes and going trick-or-treating on Halloween night, she has the brilliant idea to disguise herself “as a normal, living child.” All is going well until Ghoulia forgets and demonstrates her special scary move, which reveals her true identity. All ends well, as the children (after three pages of staring) realize how incredible it is to have a friend who is “a REAL ZOMBIE!!!”
    —CA

    A Samurai Scarecrow: A Very Ninja Halloween. Rubin Pingk. 2018. Simon & Schuster.

    Samurai ScarecrowAfter telling his little sister Kashi about the Samurai Scarecrow, who wakes when the moon is full and vows to teach “the feathered fools who won’t flee” to be scared of him, Yukio, who considers himself to be a brave ninja, decides to dress up as a bird. When Kashi, who has been copying all his Halloween preparations, appears in a matching Ninja Bird costume, Yukio has had enough. His cruel words—“You’re not a real Ninja!”—make Kashi decide not to go trick-or-treating with him. Instead, she plays a clever ninjalike trick on Yukio at the end of the evening. The action-filled digital illustrations, done in black and white with orange accents against a mauve background, add to the fun of this “very ninja Halloween” tale.
    —CA
     
    Skelly’s Halloween. David Martin. Ill. Lori Richmond. 2018. Henry Holt.

    Skelly's Halloween“Head and shoulders, knees and toes. / Trick-or-treating, here we goes!” Skelly Bones Skeleton’s Halloween plans go awry when a gust of wind catches his “BOOOO-tiful” ghost costume and tosses him up into the air, and he lands with his bones scattered. The silly appearances of Skelly, the result of asking a snake and then a colony of ants for help in reassembling his bones, is a highlight in the colorful artwork (created with pen and ink, foam stamps, and Adobe Photoshop). Finally, a trio of children put Skelly together again by following the pattern of bones on a girl’s skeleton costume and invite him to join their night of trick-or-treating fun.
    —CA

    Stumpkin. Lucy Ruth Cummins. 2018. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    StumpkinStumpkin is nearly the perfect pumpkin. He is as orange as a traffic cone and as big as a basketball. But Stumpkin has no stem. Halloween is coming, and all of Stumpkin’s friends are picked to be carved into be jack-o-lanterns—even the gourd! Will he ever get chosen to be a jack-o-lantern? Lucy Ruth Cummins uses a minimal color scheme to keep the focus on the bright orange pumpkins. The striking inclusion of two completely black pages toward the end of the book helps to build suspense as the reader awaits the fate of Stumpkin. Young readers will enjoy the happy ending and the carved faces of the pumpkins in the windows.
    —CT

    Ages 9–11

    The Ghostly Carousel: Delightfully Frightful Poems. Calef Brown. 2018. Carolrhoda/Lerner.

    The Ghostly Carousel Brown’s anthology of 17 humorous poems and seasonally colored illustrations are more likely to induce groans and giggles than fright, making them a delightful choice for those who like their Halloween reading to be scary, but not too scary. The verses, filled with puns, alliteration, and clever wordplay, introduce a motley crew of characters, including Joel, a zombie eager to escape the hugs of his zombified aunts at a family reunion; the Gambling Ghost, an expert at rolling haunted dice; a telekinetic warlock, who “can easily open door locks” with his magical mind; and Hank, who says that “grubs and larvae make marvelous food.” (Hank’s recipe for insect pie is included in another poem.)
    —CA

    Nightbooks. J. A. White. 2018. Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins.

    NightbooksAlex loves writing scary stories in his “nightbooks.” On his way to destroy all his nightbooks, in an effort to be “less weird” and more like everyone else, Alex is drawn into an apartment by the sounds of his favorite horror movie. Alex quickly realizes that this is no ordinary apartment and that he has been lured to the apartment to tell scary stories to a witch. In the giant magical library, he learns about the Unicorn Girl, the only person to ever escape the apartment. Alex enlists the help of the hesitant Yasmin (another prisoner) and Lenore (a grumpy cat who is keeping an eye on the two children) to form an escape plan. The novel includes Alex’s stories, which are genuinely creepy without gore. Elements of spookiness and magic in this horror story will appeal to a wide range of middle-grade readers.
    —CT

    Scream and Scream Again!: Spooky Stories from Mystery Writers of America. R. L. Stine (Ed.) 2018. HarperCollins.

    Scream and Scream Again!R. L. Stine and 20 other members of the Mystery Writers of America contribute to this anthology of spooky short stories, each of which begins or ends with a scream, or better yet, begins and ends with a scream. For example, Bruce Hale begins “Raw Head and Bloody Bones” with “Screams ripped the suburban October afternoon in two like a construction paper pumpkin. ‘AAAHH!’” and ends the story with “And once more, screams pierced the suburban night.” The stories are suspenseful and feature surprising twists that add to the fun of reading them aloud.
    —CA

    Ages 12–14

    Pitch Dark. Courtney Alameda. 2018. Feiwel and Friends.

    Pitch DarkLaura Cruz wants to rid herself of an implanted subjugator, and Tuck Morgan just woke up from being in stasis for a few hundred years. A crash between their two ships brings their worlds together. The crew on the Conquistador, Laura’s ship, is searching for the last bits of human history and the John Muir, Tuck’s ship, has one of the last pieces of history that could be the key to saving humanity. Laura and Tuck must work together while escaping griefers, mourners, and even other humans. There is plenty of action and scientific language in this action-packed book. An unexpected twist will keep readers interested until the very end of this science fiction thriller.
    —CT

    Small Spaces. Katherine Arden. 2018. Putnam/Penguin.

    Small SpacesOllie is on her way home from school when she sees a strange woman throwing a book called Small Spaces into the water. Ollie rescues the book and quickly becomes engrossed in the story. When Ollie’s class goes on a field trip to a farm, the bus driver gives Ollie strange advice: “Avoid large spaces at night. Keep to small.” On the way home, the bus breaks down. It’s nearly dark when Ollie escapes into the woods joined by Coco, a city girl who gets upset at the drop of a hat, and Brian, a hockey player who quotes Alice in Wonderland. They aren’t alone in the woods, as they encounter creepy scarecrows that seem to follow them. An unexpected source helps the three work together to solve a mystery that comes straight from the book Ollie has been reading. This fast-paced book will be enjoyed by middle-grade readers, particularly those who like spooky, but not too scary, stories.
    —CT

    Ages 15+

    The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein. Kiersten White. 2018. Delacorte/Random House.

    The Dark Descent of Elizabeth FrankensteinKiersten White’s imaginative retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) is told from the point of view of 17-year-old Elizabeth Lavenza, who, at the age of 5, was rescued from an abusive caregiver and taken in by the Frankensteins to be a companion for Victor in the hope that she might help socialize their brilliant eldest son. Over the years, Elizabeth becomes not just his companion but also his friend and protector; she becomes Victor’s Elizabeth. When he leaves home to pursue his studies in science, Elizabeth fears dismissal from the family. After almost two years without letters from Victor, she sets out with her friend Justine (the governess of the two young Frankenstein boys) to find him. When Elizabeth discovers the horrors of the scientific experiments he is undertaking in his lab in Germany, she realizes that she must save him from the monster he has created—and from himself. White effectively uses inserts in italics to provide details of the backstory of their relationship throughout her suspenseful, psychological horror story as she builds toward a dark Gothic conclusion.
    —CA

    The Price Guide to the Occult. Leslye Walton. 2018. Candlewick.

    The Price Guide to the OccultAll Nor Blackburn wants is to live an unremarkable teenage life. That all changes when an obscure book, The Price Guide to the Occult, starts to mysteriously grow in popularity. The price for the spells isn’t just money, however; something bad happens to another person whenever a spell is cast. Nor knows that she comes from the powerful Blackburn family line of witches, but she doesn’t know how powerful she is until she is forced to come face to face with the witch performing the black magic behind the book’s spells.  Walton keeps the reader’s interest through to the action-packed showdown. The end is graphic and disturbing, so this dark, horrific fantasy is definitely for more mature readers.
    —CT

    Carrie Thomas is a reading specialist at First Philadelphia Charter School. Previously, she was a public school music teacher and worked with nonprofit administration and outreach. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

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