Review of Randolph Caldecott: The Man Who Could Not Stop Drawing, by Leonard Marcus

June 30th, 2014

randolph_caldecott_largeRandolph Caldecott

The Man Who Could Not Stop Drawing

by Leonard Marcus

Frances Foster Books (Farrar Straus Giroux), 2013. 64 pages.
Starred Review

I got to hear Leonard Marcus speak about this material at the 75th Anniversary Caldecott Preconference last June in Chicago. There and in this book, he tells why Randolph Caldecott completely changed children’s books, and why his name is a fitting title for the award for the most distinguished picture book each year.

The book is filled with art work done by Caldecott and related images such as pictures of the places he lived or contemporary art work shown for contrast. Every double-page spread has at least two images, usually more. The format is large, like a picture book, but the text is detailed, like a chapter book.

The material is varied as well, with sketches interspersed with watercolors and photographs. The story told is the story of someone who started out as a bank clerk but eventually doodled his way to a distinguished career as an artist who will never be forgotten and who made books for children all the more accessible.

leonardmarcus.com
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.

Sonderling Sunday – Harry Potter und die Heiligtümer des Todes

June 29th, 2014

Hooray! My Harry Potter in German collection is now complete!

HP_Deathly_Hallows

My son got back tonight from a Study Abroad program in Prague, and he brought me back Harry Potter und die Heiligtümer des Todes, Harry Potter #7, the only volume I didn’t have the German version of. So today’s Sonderling Sunday, of course, will begin this book.

My son pointed out right away that the title, directly translated “Harry Potter and the Hallows of Death,” sounds better than the original English title, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. He’s right.

And I love the way Harry on the cover looks totally like a German teen!

I’m amazed that the new volume, in paperback, actually is smaller and thinner than my English hardback. They used thin paper and small print, and there are no pictures at the chapter headings. My English book has 759 pages, and the German book 767, so there are still more pages in German, but just barely.

The first chapter title is “The Dark Lord Ascending” = Der Dunkle Lord erhebt sich

And here’s the first sentence:
“The two men appeared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the narrow, moonlit lane.”
= Die beiden Männer kamen aus dem Nichts, erschienen wenige Meter voneinander entfernt auf dem schmalen, mondhellen Weg.

“wands” = Zauberstäbe (“magic-rods”)

“The best” = Hervorragende (“Excellent”)

“brambles” = Brombeersträuchern (“Blackberry shrubs”)

“hedge” = Hecke

“impressive wrought-iron gates” = imposante schmiedeeiserne Doppeltor (“imposing smith-iron double gates”)

“footsteps” = Schritte

“peacock” = Pfau

“strutting majestically along the top of the hedge”
= der majestätisch auf der Hecke entlangstolzierte

“Gravel” = Kies

“pale-faced” = fahlgesichtigen

“heartbeat” = Herzschlag

“handle” = Türklinke (“door-handle”)

“roaring fire” = prasselnden Feuer

“handsome marble mantelpiece” = hübschen marmornen Kaminsims

“the new arrivals” = die Neuankömmlinge

“gloom” = Düsternis

“snakelike” = schlangenähnlich

“a pearly glow” = ein perlmuttartiger Glanz

“nightfall” = Einbruch der Dunkelheit

“place of safety” = sicheren Aufenthaltsort

“others fidgeted” = andere rutschten unruhig auf ihren Stühlen hin und her
(“others slid restlessly in their chairs back and forth”)

“intensity” = Eindringlichkeit

“scorched” = versengt

“curved” = krümmte

“Confundus Charm” = Verwechslungszauber (“Confusion Magic”)

“wheezy giggle” = pfeifendes Kichern

“enchantments” = Zauberbannen

“squared his shoulders” = straffte die Schultern

“Curse” = Fluch

“Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement” = Leiter der Abteilung für Magische Strafverfolgung

A 23-letter word!
“Ministry departments” = Ministeriumsabteilungen

“high-ranking” = hochrangigen

“destination” = Bestimmungsort

I’ll finish tonight with this sentence:
“That Potter lives is due more to my errors than to his triumphs.”
= Dass Potter noch lebt, ist mehr meinen Irrtümern zuzuschreiben als seinen Erfolgen

I’m finishing on page 6 of the English version, Seite 14 of the German (more front matter is counted). (Interesting — the German book is 8 pages longer than the English, and that might be the difference right there.)

It’s good to be back with Sonderling Sunday! Have a hervorragende week!

Review of The Interrupted Tale, by Maryrose Wood

June 29th, 2014

interrupted_tale_largeThe Interrupted Tale

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book 4

by Maryrose Wood
read by Katherine Kellgren

Listening Library, 2013. 8 hours, 19 minutes on 7 compact discs.
Starred Review

Brava! Another installment in the incredible series about The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place. This series makes fabulous listening. I laughed and laughed during my commute, my only regret being that in my own car I had no one to share the joke with, and since I listened to it, I can’t quote hilarious bits in this review.

The plot is outrageous, but told in all seriousness. Katherine Kellgren’s proper British accent strikes exactly the right note.

In this fourth book, mysteries that have followed the Incorrigibles through the entire series are beginning to be uncovered. For the bulk of this book their governess, Penelope Lumley, is invited back to her former home, the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, just in time to learn of an insidious plot to change it into the Quinzey School for Miserable Girls.

Meanwhile, the charming Simon Harley-Dickinson, he of the spark of genius, has been silent, captured by pirates, and the cannibal book from Lord Ashton’s library gains weighty importance.

The plot is wild and unlikely – and oh, so much fun! The style reminds me of Lemony Snicket’s, only far more hopeful and uplifting. This is a series I highly recommend listening to, because you will appreciate its brilliance even more than if reading it on your own.

maryrosewood.com
booksontape.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

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.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of Northanger Abbey, by Val McDermid

June 28th, 2014

northanger_abbey_mcdermid_largeNorthanger Abbey

by Val McDermid

Grove Press, New York, 2014. 343 pages.

Another modern Jane Austen update! Very fun! Val McDermid takes the exact story of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey and writes it as Jane herself might have written it if she were alive today.

Now, with Sense and Sensibility, Joanna Trollope took an Austen novel I wasn’t terribly fond of and translated to modern times, which had it make a lot more sense. In this case, Northanger Abbey is one of my favorite Austens (or at least in the top half, after Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion), but in translating it, it actually seems a bit less believable to me.

The original Northanger Abbey made fun of gothic novels. Catherine Morland imagined Northanger Abbey as the setting for one, and fantasized a sinister mystery in the family’s history. In the modern version, Cat Morland imagines that vampire novels are real. To me, it was a much bigger stretch that Cat would believe in vampires than that she’d believe a gothic novel was real. I don’t care how much a girl likes to read paranormal romances. I don’t think anyone would start believing they are real, no matter how mysterious the family.

Other than that, it was again a good translation of all the situations to modern times. Though I have to face that I’m not crazy about the plot of Northanger Abbey other than the fun it has with gothic novels. The story of her supposed friendship with Isabelle Thorpe is a bit more painful. And while Val McDermid did give the final problem with the General a modern twist, she left in the foreshadowing of the problem from the original novel, which ended up falling rather flat.

Still, Austen fans will enjoy reading the update. It’s a bit amazing how neatly the situations fit in modern life. And bottom line, we’ve got a light-hearted romance and the story of a young adult going out in the world for the first time and making new friends – some better than others.

valmcdermid.com
groveatlantic.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

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.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of Don’t Say a Word, Mama, by Joe Hayes

June 25th, 2014

dont_say_a_word_mama_largeDon’t Say a Word, Mamá

No Digas Nada, Mamá

by Joe Hayes
illustrated by Esau Andrade Valencia

Cinco Puntos Press, 2013. 40 pages.

Here’s a charming story told in both English and Spanish, and one that’s worth telling in either language.

Rosa and Blanca’s mother has always been proud of how good her daughters are to each other. When they grow up and each grow a garden, each wants to share her bounty with her beloved sister.

First, when their tomatoes harvest in abundance, each sister goes to Mamá and tells her plans to share her windfall with her sister.

Of course, Blanca took some of her tomatoes to her old mother too. She told her, “My poor sister Rosa has a husband and three children. There are five to feed in her house. I have only myself. I’m going to give half of my tomatoes to my sister. But it will be a surprise. Don’t say a word, Mamá”

Both sisters have the same idea, and they don’t even notice the other sneaking to their house in the dark. Mamá sees, but she’s sworn to secrecy.

In the morning, when the tomatoes have mysteriously multiplied, each sister decides to give some of the overflowing tomatoes to her mother.

Mamá now had a very big pile of tomatoes in her kitchen. She shrugged her shoulders. “Oh, well,” she said, “you can never have too many tomatoes.”

The same thing happens when the corn is harvested. But when it comes time to harvest the chiles, Mamá decides that she may not say a word, but she will have to put a stop to the silly charade her loving daughters are carrying out. Because what will she do with all those hot chiles?

This has the humor and charm of a tale worth telling, no matter which language you choose to tell it in.

cincopuntos.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.

Review of Black and Blue Magic, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

June 24th, 2014

black_and_blue_magic_largeBlack and Blue Magic

by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Atheneum, New York, 1975. 186 pages.
Starred Review

Well, my co-worker opened up the floodgates when he decided to order Three Investigators books via Interlibrary Loan. That got me thinking about the other books I loved in childhood but that are no longer in print.

Many other books by Zilpha Keatley Snyder are still in print, so I don’t know why Black and Blue Magic is not among them. It’s the one I checked out from the library over and over again and dearly loved.

And it was just as good as I remembered it! (A lot shorter than I remembered it, but just as good!) Harry Houdini Marco is clumsy as can be, always tripping or running into things. His mother says he’s just still growing, but all he knows is that he’s clumsy. And Harry believes that if his father were still alive, Harry would be a disappointment to him. Harry’s father was a skilled magician, and wanted Harry to be the same, which explains the name he was given. He even brought him to the Great Swami and got a prophecy that Harry’s “magic will be of a very special kind.” But Harry has tried doing magic tricks, and he’s just not coordinated enough.

But then one day Harry sees a little man who’s clumsy lose his big suitcase on the bus. Harry gets off the bus and takes it to him. The man’s a salesman, so Harry recommends his mother’s boarding house. Before the man leaves, he gives Harry a magical reward. It’s an ointment, and when Harry puts a drop on each shoulder, he sprouts wings!

Harry has to learn how to use the wings safely and unobtrusively. He’s accidentally seen by a few people, and it’s quite amusing the conclusions those people draw.

This book is wonderful because there’s magic and adventure combined with character growth and personal problems that Harry is able to solve.

It’s a delightful book about a good-hearted kid who finds out that special magic might make him a little black and blue. And it definitely stands the test of time.

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

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.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of The Great American Dust Bowl, by Don Brown

June 23rd, 2014

great_american_dust_bowl_largeThe Great American Dust Bowl

written and illustrated by Don Brown

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013. 80 pages.
Starred Review

When I see a history book for kids presented in comic book form, full of facts and graphic details, I think, “Goodness! Why don’t they all do it this way?” I can’t call it a graphic novel, but it’s a graphic history book. It’s in comic book form and doesn’t only tell you what the Dust Bowl was like, it also shows you.

I’ve heard a lot about the dust bowl. But now, with the aid of these pictures, I feel like I know what it was like to experience it.

Don Brown gives us an overarching view, even giving the factors that built up to it, but he also focuses in on the experiences of people. He shows how small people and cars and telephone poles were compared to the clouds of dust. The page about bugs has quite a gross-out factor:

Bugs that should have died in colder, wetter weather or been eaten by birds and bats killed by the drought now turned up everywhere. Centipedes crawled across ceilings and walls, tarantulas marched across kitchens, and black widow spiders lurked in corncribs and woodsheds.

“The ants were so thick and so bad that you could swipe handfuls of them off the table and still have more ants on the table.”

The picture with that shows the woman who is speaking looking askance at a table covered with ants.

There’s a dramatic page, mostly filled with a dust cloud, dwarfing a car and telephone poles. The words written in wavy lines across the cloud say:

Storms could blow for days and be immediately followed by another and another, making for unrelenting blows for weeks on end.

Raging, grit-filled winds shattered windows and scoured the paint off houses and cars.

Trains derailed. Telephone poles were knocked to the ground.

Altogether, Don Brown gives readers vivid detail about the Dust Bowl, and they understand some of the causes and the scope of the problem. (I had never realized before that during that time, even New York City got hit with a dust storm that made lights necessary during daylight hours.) They even have some warnings that it could happen again.

The book is artistic as well. If you leaf through the pages, you notice right away that Don Brown has used different panel arrangements on each set of pages, and keeps the story varied and interesting.

This is history that will stick with you.

hmhbooks.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

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.

Review of The Science of Happily Ever After, by Ty Tashiro

June 21st, 2014

science_of_happily_ever_after_largeThe Science of Happily Ever After

What Really Matters in the Quest for Enduring Love

by Ty Tashiro, PhD

Harlequin, 2014. 278 pages.

I began this book when I had recently decided to try online dating. When I finished it, I was already in a relationship. By the time I’m posting the review, I’ve broken up with that first person. But the overall idea of the book fits perfectly with the reason I’d decided to try online dating.

I’d noticed that once I actually meet someone, it’s harder for me to see the ways they are not necessarily good for me. Once my emotions get involved, it’s harder for me to exercise good judgment. So my thinking with trying online dating was this: Why not screen out people who obviously wouldn’t be great for me right from the start, before I even meet them in person?

The Science of Happily Ever After fits perfectly with that idea, because it presents some objective things to look for when contemplating a long-term relationship. In fact, it’s given me some things to look for once I meet people that might be red flags. Why not optimize one’s chances of happily ever after?

In the introductory chapter, the author talks about his reasons for writing this book:

Although supportive friends, self-confidence and communication skills contribute to healthy romantic relationships, a much stronger predictor of romantic success is the type of partner you choose in the first place. The traits that a partner possesses before you ever start dating, such as his or her personality and values, are among the strongest indicators of whether a romantic relationship will be happy and stable many years later. However, for people who say they will choose a better partner for the next relationship, the intention to choose a better partner does not guarantee that they will end up making better choices. How many times have you witnessed friends who are smart and effective people in most aspects of their lives repeatedly choose the same dysfunctional partners and then appear surprised when the relationship is a disaster a few months later?

This book does give tips as to how to help yourself pull off a good choice.

This is not a prescriptive self-help book promising a soul mate in three easy steps. Love is too complex and too personal for a stranger to tell a unique individual like you precisely what to do with your love life. Instead, my goal is to help you clarify your version of “happily ever after” and then to provide you with the information needed to make wise decisions when choosing a partner….

The Science of Happily Ever After is about making smarter choices. It’s about learning to weed out the undesirable traits and rethinking our views about what really matters in a romantic partner.

Along the way, Ty Tashiro discusses studies that have been done on what makes an enduring relationship. These give you some ideas on what you should look for. He points out that you’re not going to get everything you want, since no one is perfect, and gives you ideas for which “three wishes” you should prioritize.

I think this paragraph from later in the book sums up things nicely:

The fact remains that when it comes to choosing a romantic partner, what you see is what you get. Forever. Although this second type of change is possible, why would you go into a marriage relying only upon a partner’s willingness to manage their negative traits, rather than choose someone from the start who gives your relationship the best chance of success? Partners who give your relationship the best chance of success also tend to be the kind of people who are most likely to manage whatever weaknesses they have with maturity. So, once again, finding happily ever after begins with choosing someone with the right traits.

I do love it that this book came in right when I’d started dating someone. And I’m proud that, for the first time in my life, I broke up with someone – and stayed friends with him. Whatever my future holds, I feel like this book is helping me evaluate relationships from a more rational place, thus increasing my odds of one day living happily ever after.

tytashiro.net
harlequin.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

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.

Review of Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite, by Barry Deutsch

June 20th, 2014

mirka_met_a_meteorite_largeHereville

How Mirka Met a Meteorite

by Barry Deutsch

Amulet Books, New York, 2012. 126 pages.

This is the second graphic novel about Mirka, an 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish Girl who dreams of fighting monsters and having adventures. At the start of the book, she’s grounded because of her adventures in How Mirka Got Her Sword. And just as soon as she’s ungrounded, she goes looking for trouble again. And finds more than she bargained for.

A meteorite is hurtling toward Hereville, about to kill everyone. Mirka gets the witch to help – and she transforms the meteorite into a girl who looks just like Mirka. And the meteorite, to whom they give the name Metty, is faster and stronger and even cleaner than Mirka.

At first it seems like it will be nice to have a double, and Metty can do chores and other unpleasant things. But it doesn’t turn out so nice. For starters, they can’t both show up at meals or Mirka’s stepmother would find out what’s going on. So Metty gets the first few meals. That’s only the beginning of the troubles.

This book is full of fun details and readers will be delighted with Mirka, who doesn’t necessarily think before she acts, but has plenty of heart. As the caption on the front says, here is Mirka, “boldly going where no 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl has gone before.”

hereville.com
amuletbooks.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

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.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of A Little Book of Sloth, by Lucy Cooke

June 19th, 2014

little_book_of_sloth_largeA Little Book of Sloth
by Lucy Cooke

Margaret K. McElderry Books, New York, 2013. 64 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s children’s nonfiction at its incredibly cutest.

In a sleepy corner of Costa Rica there’s an upside-down world where sloth is a virtue and not a sin. A sanctuary – the first in the world – devoted to saving this much maligned animal.

Home to one hundred and fifty orphaned and injured sloths, Slothville is an idle idyll where the sloths’ every whim is catered for by the celebrated sloth whisperer Judy Arroyo.

This book reveals some of the secrets behind the sloth’s smile and introduces you to a handful of the sanctuary’s superstar sloths. I think we have much to learn from their mellow ways. So take a break from the hectic world around you, kick back, relax, and enjoy hanging with the sloths.

The picture-book-sized pages in this book feature large photographs of baby sloths. Baby sloths are cute. Very cute. Along the way, we learn lots of facts about sloths, like the two main types of sloths and how much of their lives they spend resting (70%). Did you know that sloths aren’t monkeys or bears, but Xenarthrans? I didn’t until I read this book.

Sloths are born needing hugs, so orphaned sloths are given a stuffed toy to hug in place of their missing mother. We get to see pictures of Mateo trying to decide in a basket of stuffies, before he settles on Mr. Moo, a stuffed terry cow. We’re told, “If any of the other baby sloths tries to sneak a Moo hug, a fight breaks out – a very, very slow fight, in which the winner is the last sloth to stay awake.”

This book is hard to resist, simply from all the pictures of the cuddling, laid back sloths. Reading it may be all it takes to get you to join the Sloth Appreciation Society.

slothville.com
slothsanctuary.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

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.