Review of The Complete Peanuts, 1999-2000, by Charles M. Schulz

July 19th, 2016

complete_peanuts_9900_largeThe Complete Peanuts

The Definitive Collection of Charles M. Schulz’s Comic Strip Masterpiece

Dailies and Sundays plus Li’l Folks

1999 to 2000

by Charles M. Schulz

introduction by President Barack Obama

Fantagraphics Books, 2016. 315 pages.
Starred Review

This series is wonderful. Every single Peanuts strip is reproduced, in order. My family has been following it since the series began in 2004 with the 1950 to 1952 volume.

I reviewed the first several volumes, but then decided there wasn’t a lot more to say. They are brilliant, and it is wonderful that Fantagraphics is assembling this collection.

My son and I wondered what they would do with the final volume, since Charles Schulz died in February 2000, so the book would only be half as long.

The solution Fantagraphics came up with delighted us — they reprinted Li’l Folks, a cartoon panel series that Charles Schulz drew from 1947 to 1950 for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. You can see some things that showed up in the early Peanuts strips directly quoted.

It has been a tremendous treat to read all of the Peanuts cartoons over these past twelve years. And now one more volume is promised, with “bonus material and rarities.” I can’t wait!

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Sonderling Sunday – Das Buch der Tausend Tage, Day 160

July 17th, 2016

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday! That time of the week when I play with language by looking at the German translation of children’s books, sort of a Very Silly Phrasebook for Travelers.

Buch_Tausend_Tage

Today I’m going back to my beloved Book of a Thousand Days, by Shannon Hale, Das Buch der Tausend Tage.

Last time on this book, we finished Tag 158 of Dashti and her lady’s time in the tower. Today we begin Day 160.

As usual, I will simply quote interesting words and phrases and show how they were translated. I hope that this gives you a taste of the wonderful writing in this book without giving away the plot.

“Times I’ve asked them for news of the world”
= Hin und wieder habe ich sie gefragt, was es in der Welt Neues gibt
(“Here and again have I them asked, what there in the world new is.”)

This is nothing new, but always fun to say in German:
“fresh meat” = frisches Fleisch

“held open” = hochhielt

“snorted” = schnaubend

Interesting. They don’t just call the color “peach.”
“peach” = pfirschfarben (“peach-color”)

“shades” = Schattierungen

“wondrous” = wundersam

“The guard laughed like a horse snorts.”
= Der Wächter lachte wie ein wieherndes Pferd.
(“The guard laughed like a neighing horse.”)

“he was sorry for us, and he was sorry for being sorry.”
= wir taten ihm leid, und es tat ihm leid, dass wir ihm leidtaten.

And I have to note any Sonderwords:
“They weren’t nice words he said.”
= Sonderlich nett waren seine Worte nicht.
(“Especially nice were his words not.”)

Interesting that the translator changes some of the metaphors.
“having made a person feel rubbed down to bones”
= mir den Boden unter den Füßen wegzuziehen
(“the floor under my feet pulled away from me”)

“rubbish heap” = Unrathaufen

“god of tricks” = Gott der Streiche

“stone hearts” = versteinerte Herzen

“chick” = Küken

Tag 162

“first breath” = erster Hauch

“friskier” = munterer

“jump and play” = hüpfen und spielen

“bits of salt meat” = Leckerbissen aus Salzfleisch

“rounded more than straight” = krummer (“crooked”)

“dim” = trüb (“cloudy”)

“buds” = Knospen

“winter hideaway” = winterlichen Zufluchtsort

I will stop there, at the end of Day 180, before Tag 223, when some awful things happen.

Meanwhile, may this week find you munterer than before.

Review of The Girl from Everywhere, by Heidi Heilig

July 16th, 2016

girl_from_everywhere_largeThe Girl From Everywhere

by Heidi Heilig

Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins), 2016. 454 pages.

I love the premise of this book. 16-year-old Nix has grown up on a time-traveling ship, the Temptation. Her father, Captain Slate, can Navigate anywhere – as long as he has a hand-drawn map. The map doesn’t have to even be of an actual place. With enough detail, Slate can even bring their ship to fantasy worlds.

They make their living gathering things from one time or place and selling them in another.

But Slate has an obsession. He wants to go back to 1868 Hawaii and stop Nix’s mother’s death.

Now, I didn’t quite believe Nix’s worries about that. She was afraid that if Slate stopped her mother’s death – she died in childbirth – Nix would cease to exist. Whereas her father believed Nix would be able to get to know her mother. I didn’t quite understand why Nix didn’t take that approach.

I also wasn’t crazy about Nix’s potential love interest, probably because I don’t go for the noble thief trope. Kashmir is a crew member who came on board from Vaadi Al-Maas, a location from the story of Sinbad the Sailor. He is a thief, and steals things for Nix from various places.

As the story opens, they are working to get a mythical bird that will heal illness, along with enough valuables to win an auction taking place in 2016 for an 1868 map of Hawaii.

But things go wrong, they end up in Hawaii in 1884, and there get embroiled in a plot against the king of the Hawaiian Islands.

This brings up an interesting ethical question: Is it okay to work with people planning to annex Hawaii to the United States when they know that’s going to eventually happen anyway?

Meanwhile, the novel takes on something of a heist plot, with their part involving a trip to a mythical place to pick up some terra cotta warriors. There’s another potential love interest introduced, a handsome youth who lives in Hawaii. And Nix learns about the place where she would have grown up if her mother had lived.

So you may be able to tell, I didn’t fall too hard for the characters in this book, but I still found it an intriguing premise. It was fun to see Nix comfortable with New York City in the present day as well as other places hundreds of years in the past. The rules of Navigating which were unveiled during the book were quite plausible, and I find myself hoping this is only the beginning of adventures for Nix and the Temptation.

heidiheilig.com
epicreads.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Tiny Stitches, by Gwendolyn Hooks, illustrated by Colin Bootman

July 15th, 2016

tiny_stitches_largeTiny Stitches

The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas

by Gwendolyn Hooks
illustrated by Colin Bootman

Lee & Low Books, New York, 2016. 32 pages.
Starred Review

Tiny Stitches is the story of Vivien Thomas, the African-American medical researcher who developed the surgical procedure that saved the life of blue babies during the days of segregation and despite overwhelming prejudice.

Vivien always wanted to be a doctor. He saved money for medical school even as a child working with his father as a carpenter. But they lost all their savings in the Great Depression.

It wasn’t through going to medical school that Vivien got his opportunity. He interviewed for a job with medical researcher Dr. Alfred Blalock, and impressed him with his knowledge and intelligent questions. He got a job assisting Dr. Blalock, who gave him more and more research of his own.

Vivien’s surgical techniques improved with each operation. Just as he had learned to fit pieces of wood together seamlessly, Vivien learned to suture, or sew, blood vessels together seamlessly. Dr. Blalock was impressed by Vivien’s tiny stitches. Sometimes Vivien assisted Dr. Blalock with an experiment. On other days, Dr. Blalock assisted Vivien.

Vivien was happy working as a researcher, until he learned that his official job description was janitor. White men with the same duties and skills as Vivien were called research technicians and earned more money. Vivien was insulted. He was not a janitor. He told Dr. Blalock that he would not continue working unless he was paid the same as the other technicians. A few days later, Vivien noticed his paycheck was much better. He now earned about the same as the white technicians.

In 1941, Dr. Blalock became Chief of Surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. He took Vivien Thomas with him, where Vivien faced even more discrimination.

In 1943, Dr. Helen Taussig approached them with the problem of blue babies – babies born with a heart defect so that their blood didn’t get enough oxygen, and they died. Dr. Blalock assigned Vivien to research a method for operating on the babies.

Vivien had to develop new needles small enough to use on babies, and he tried the procedure out on animals. Dr. Blalock assisted Vivien only once during his experiments.

On November 29, 1944, Dr. Blalock tried the procedure Vivien had developed on a blue baby patient named Eileen. Dr. Blalock asked Vivien to stand on a stool behind him and guide him through the operation.

After that operation and others (also assisted by Vivien) were successful, Dr. Blalock and Dr. Taussig were highly acclaimed.

As news spread of Dr. Blalock’s success, two or three operations a week soon became two or three operations a day. Patients came from as far away as Europe to have the procedure. Vivien remained standing on the stool behind Dr. Blalock, coaching him through more than one hundred fifty operations.

The last double-page spread has a picture of Vivien in full academic regalia up on stage.

Vivien Thomas was not publicly acknowledged for his brilliant research and surgical talents until more than twenty-six years after the first blue baby operation. On February 27, 1971, the Old Hands Club, a group of doctors who had trained under Vivien, presented a formal portrait of him to Johns Hopkins Hospital. It is displayed across from Dr. Blalock’s portrait. In 1976, Johns Hopkins University awarded Vivien an honorary doctorate degree and appointed him to the faculty as Instructor of Surgery.

Although he never had the chance to attend medical school, Vivien’s research pioneered open-heart surgery on children. Today about forty thousand children are born each year with heart problems. Because of Vivien Thomas, these children now have a chance to live full and healthy lives.

This book isn’t flashy. The prose tells the story without frills. The pictures show a doctor at work. There’s nothing surprising or startling here.

But the story tells about a remarkable man who did outstanding work and saved lives – even without recognition.

gwendolynhooks.com
colinbootman.net
leeandlow.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Frederick’s Journey, by Doreen Rappaport

July 15th, 2016

fredericks_journey_largeFrederick’s Journey

The Life of Frederick Douglass

by Doreen Rappaport
illustrated by London Ladd

Disney Jump at the Sun, Los Angeles, 2015. 44 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s another striking large format picture book biography from Doreen Rappaport. Like her biography of Theodore Roosevelt, To Dare Mighty Things, the bold painting of the subject on the cover sets the tone.

She has a gift for telling important things about a subject even in the short picture book form. Of course, the large paintings by London Ladd keep the reader engaged. As with To Dare Mighty Things, the author includes quotations on every spread.

Frederick Douglass’s story begins with his childhood as a slave. It goes on to tell how he worked hard to learn to read and eventually gained the hope that motivated him to seek his freedom. After that, he worked tirelessly to spread freedom to others.

The quotation at the front of the book sums it up well:

You have seen how man was made a slave;
You shall see how a slave was made a man.

This book shows you Frederick’s story, so you can see his journey yourself.

doreenrappaport.com
londonladd.com
DisneyBooks.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of The Story of Diva and Flea, by Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi

July 14th, 2016

story_of_diva_and_flea_largeThe Story of Diva and Flea

As Told & Shown by Mo Willems & Tony DiTerlizzi

Hyperion Books for Children, 2015. 70 pages.
Starred Review

I like beginning chapter books that actually have an interesting story, which anyone will like. There’s a place for stories that appeal to young children, and this is written in a simple style. But it’s an interesting story, whatever your age.

This book is set in Paris, where Mo Willems lived for awhile. It tells about Diva, a little dog who lives with the gardienne of a grand old apartment building.

Diva took her job seriously. Every day, she would exit the grand front door, trot across the small courtyard, and stand at the building’s front gate. From there she watched and guarded, and guarded and watched.

And if anything ever happened, no matter how big or small, Diva would yelp and run away.

Diva was very good at her job.

It also tells about Flea, a large cat who lives on the streets of Paris.

Flea did have a fixed occupation, however. He was a flâneur. A flâneur is someone (or somecat) who wanders the streets and bridges and alleys of the city just to see what there is to see. A great flâneur has seen everything, but still looks for more, because there is always more to discover.

Flea was a really great flâneur.

When Diva meets Flea? Diva (with much hesitation at first) learns about a big world of things to discover, and Flea (with much hesitation at first) learns about the comforts of Friends and Home.

Tony DiTerlizzi’s art (gently colored) adds just the right touch to this story and gives it the flavor of Paris. There’s a nice double-page spread when Diva sees the Eiffel Tower for the first time.

hyperionbooksforchildren.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Bunjitsu Bunny’s Best Move, by John Himmelman

July 14th, 2016

bunjitsu_bunnys_best_move_largeBunjitsu Bunny’s Best Move

by John Himmelman

Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2015. 120 pages.

Bunjitsu Bunny’s back! This is a beginning chapter book with lots of chapters, but simple drawings on every page, and only a few sentences. So it’s a quick read, but will give beginning readers a sense of accomplishment. And it has what I like best in beginning readers – stories that all ages will enjoy, nothing watered down for kids.

The first chapter is the same as in the first book. I’ll quote the entire thing, to give you an idea of how simple and short these stories are:

Isabel was the best bunjitsu artist in her school. She could kick higher than anyone. She could hit harder than anyone. She could throw her classmates farther than anyone.

Some were frightened of her. But Isabel never hurt another creature, unless she had to.

“Bunjitsu is not just about kicking, hitting, and throwing,” she said. “It is about finding ways NOT to kick, hit, and throw.”

They called her Bunjitsu Bunny.

I didn’t think the stories in this book were quite as consistently clever as the ones in the first book, but that’s a tiny quibble. More stories about Isabel, Bunjitsu Bunny! Many of them, again, are about avoiding a fight when that’s the best route. Some are about learning a lesson. Some are about enjoying the journey. Some are about persistence.

The Bunjitsu Code is at the back, explicitly stating the ideas expressed in these simple stories:

I promise to:
Practice my art until I am good at it. And then keep practicing.
Never start a fight.
Do all I can to avoid a fight.
Help those who need me.
Study the world.
Learn from those who know more than I do.
Share what I love.
Find what makes me laugh, and laugh loudly. And often.
Make someone smile every day.
Keep my body strong and healthy.
Try things that are hard for me to do.

A nice message and simple stories. Another wonderful volume for beginning readers.

mackids.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Kingfisher, by Patricia A. McKillip

July 13th, 2016

kingfisher_largeKingfisher

by Patricia A. Mc.Killip

Ace Books, New York, 2016. 346 pages.

This fantasy tale begins with a young adult named Pierce who is ready to leave his sorceress mother, ready to go to the capital city and find his father, a knight. It’s also about an illegitimate prince looking for his own heritage, a chef who takes on a job her shapechanging father is opposed to, another chef who makes beautiful food that is tantalyzing but tasteless, and a princess who’s worried about her half-brother.

The fantasy world is interesting — with modern things like cars and cellphones, but a magical realm with gods and goddesses competing for power.

The unifying theme is a quest for an object of great power. No one knows where it is or what it will look like, but their heart will know it when they see it.

Along the way secrets are uncovered and there are battles between good and evil.

This is the kind of fantasy I find a little bit annoying. It’s beautifully written and evocative — but I never feel like I actually know quite what is going on or exactly how the magic works or what just happened.

I’m still glad I read it and glad to have spent time with these characters and enjoyed their quest. But it will be better for readers who don’t get hung up on details of world-building and internal logic like I do.

penguin.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of The Whisper, by Pamela Zagarenski

July 7th, 2016

whisper_largeThe Whisper

by Pamela Zagarenski

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, 2015. 36 pages.
Starred Review

The Whisper is a mystical, highly symbolic picture book about imagination.

The main story is that a girl is given a book by her teacher. But when she gets home and opens the book, there are no words inside, only pictures.

As the little girl paged through the wordless book, she heard the wind blow and then a small whisper:

“Dear little girl, don’t be disappointed.
You can imagine the words.
You can imagine the stories.
Start with a few simple words and imagine from there.
Remember: beginnings, middles, and ends of stories can always be changed and imagined differently.
There are never any rules, rights, or wrongs in imagining – imagining just is.”

The whisper sounded so knowing and wise to the little girl that she opened the book to the first page and began.

From there, we see each lavishly painted page and hear the beginning of the story the little girl tells about each one.

There are definitely recurring themes in the paintings (In fact, themes that tie in with Pamela Zagarenski’s other books) which also tie in with the stuffed animals in the girl’s room, and the fox who followed her home.

And that all sounds a lot simpler than this book really is. There are layers upon layers. After a few readings, I’m still not at all sure I’ve grasped everything that’s going on.

You could also use this book as a simple Seek-and-Find book with the various recurring elements happening on each page.

But the overarching idea is this: You can make stories yourself.

And you will be glad you did.

Oh, and my favorite painting is the one of the wizard who blows bubbles in the shapes of things and fills the harbor with enormous white whales.

Imaginative!

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hmhco.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Across the Universe, by Beth Revis

July 6th, 2016

across_the_universe_largeAcross the Universe

by Beth Revis

Penguin, 2011. 398 pages.
Starred Review

This is a science fiction dystopian story crossed with locked room mystery.

Across the Universe is told from two perspectives. First, we have Amy. As the book opens, she watches both her parents get cryogenically frozen to travel on a space ship for 300 years to terraform a new planet. Amy’s father tells her she doesn’t have to go through with it, but she decides to stay with them.

The other narrator is Elder, a sixteen-year-old who lives on the spaceship Godspeed, being trained to be the next leader. He’s frustrated because Eldest hasn’t been training him as he should be. He is destined to lead all the people on the ship – Shouldn’t he know more about it?

Elder finds out about the frozen people in the belly of the ship. Not long after, the beautiful girl with the amazing red hair wakes up. They are fifty years away from landing – who woke her early? How will she cope with life on Godspeed, which is not what she signed up for?

The story continues, seen from both Amy’s and Elder’s perspectives. Things that Elder thinks are normal, Amy sees as seriously flawed. Eldest tells them this is how things must be. Amy tries to explain what life was like on earth, but most of the people of Godspeed believe she’s crazy.

Then more of the frozen passengers thaw – and some die. Who is responsible? Are Amy’s parents’ lives in danger? What secrets are behind the strange life on the ship? And will Amy ever see the stars again? Does Elder have what it takes to lead his people? When should he speak up, and when is it best to simply obey Eldest? What does Eldest know about their mission that he is keeping hidden?

Eldest tells Elder that discord comes from differences. Amy is different. Will the discord she brings destroy the ship?

This is the first book of a trilogy. By waiting so long to read it (I meant to read it ever since it was first published), I will not have to wait to read the sequels! I’ll let you know what I think….

AcrosstheUniverseBook.com
bethrevis.com
razorbillbooks.com
penguin.com/teens

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Source: This review is based on my own copy, which I got at an American Library Association conference.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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