Wild Things: The Joys of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult – Bruce Handy

    Wild Things: The Joys of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult – Bruce Handy, Simon & Schuster, (9781451609950), 2017

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1- 5 (5 is excellent or a Starred review) 5

What did you like about the book?  The author takes a look back at some childhood favorites, as well as some he missed out on at the time, from the perspective of a grown-up father of two.  The book begins as most reader’s literary lives begin with picture books, in particular the classic Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. Handy goes onto explore other genres according to reading level, including fairy tales, easy readers and primers, chapter books, books about growing up and finally books about death.   Handy gives lots of interesting background on the authors, the state of children’s literature at the time, and insight into why these particular books remain classics. Readers may discover why a certain book held such sway in their own childhood and might be inspired to go back and reread some classics with an adult eye.  Authors include Maurice Sendak, Beatrix Potter, Dr. Seuss, Beverly Cleary, C.S. Lewis, L. Frank Baum, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa Alcott and E.B. White.  Lovers of children’s literature will find themselves right at home.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No

To whom would you recommend this book? This is a must read for children’s librarians and teachers.  Bibliophiles will also love it as will literary minded parents.

Who should buy this book?  Public Libraries

Where would you shelve it? 809.89 (Adult non-fiction)

Should we (librarians/readers) put this at the top of our “to read” piles?  Yes!

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

Date of review:   12/7/17             

 

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Dumpling Dreams: How Joyce Chen Brought the Dumpling from Beijing to Cambridge by Carrie Clickard, illustrated by Katy Wu

 Dumpling Dreams: How Joyce Chen Brought the Dumpling from Beijing to Cambridge by Carrie Clickard, illustrated by Katy Wu.  Simon & Schuster, 2017.  9781481467070

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

What did you like about the book? I like how this picture book biography tracks Chen’s love of food and her efforts to duplicate favorite recipes to please those she loved.  Eventually, she perfects a recipe for her beloved dumplings, which she brings to the U.S. and renames Peking Ravioli. The rhyming text in a simple, spare style presents her life in food and her personal life, including her flight from China, making this book a good selection for new readers. Back matter includes a timeline, a glossary of Chinese food terms, a bibliography, and a recipe for her famous dumplings. The digital illustrations are colorful and appealing. I remember going to the Joyce Chen Restaurant in Cambridge in the 1990’s, so it was fun for me to read of her beginnings as a chef.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I found the rhymes too spare at times.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Fans of Chinese food, or cooking in general, ages 3-7, will “eat this up.” Also useful for units on Chinese Americans. For reading aloud or one to one.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Biography

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes – she is a local icon.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: December 7, 2017

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The Birth of Kitaro by Shigeru Mizuki

        The Birth of Kitaro by Shigeru Mizuki, translated by Zack Davisson. Drawn & Quarterly, 2016. 9781770462281

Format: Paperback

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4.5

Genre:  Fantasy/horror

What did you like about the book? What a quirky superhero! Kitaro, a yokai, or demon, was born of undead parents. His super power is his hair, and the ghost of his twice dead dad occasionally accompanies him on his quests in the form of an eyeball. Black and white manga-like comics, fresh and very inventive, harness creatures from Japanese mythology, as well as other myth traditions around the world, to present funny and creepy bad guys ‘n gals. This is a fun and entertaining comic, sure to appeal to wide audiences.

Anything you didn’t like about it? This is not a criticism, but an observation: kids used to color comics might pass this one over because it’s in black and white. Insist they try it!

To whom would you recommend this book?  Offer this to Miyazaki and Kibuishi fans ages 8 and up.

Who should buy this book? Elementary, middle, high school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Graphic novels, children’s or teen

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? If you read graphic novels, yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: December 7, 2017

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Who Was Jane Austen? – Sarah Fabiny, illustrated by Jerry Hoare

       Who Was Jane Austen? – Sarah Fabiny, illustrated by Jerry Hoare, Penguin Workshop, (9780515157994), 2017

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1- 5 (5 is excellent or a Starred review) 3

What did you like about the book?  This biography introduces readers to Jane Austen, her life and her novels.  The biography highlights the role of women in Jane Austen’s time, where most were trained only to find a suitable husband.  Jane grew up in a large family, the daughter of a minster who also ran a school for boys.  Jane had a close relationship with her only sister Cassandra, three years her senior and the two never married.  Jane loved to write but she had to first publish her works anonymously as “A Lady.”  In time, Jane was able to support herself, her mother and sister through her writing.  The book includes further information on related topics including: The Modern Novel and The Role of Women in Georgian England.  Included is a partial list of “On the Screen” television and feature film adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels.  The book includes a timeline of Jane Austen’s life alongside a corresponding timeline of the world and a bibliography.  The line drawings capture the Georgian time period and its fashions quite well.  This would be useful in a biography report and will appeal to fans of Jane Austen.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No

To whom would you recommend this book? Hand this to readers interested in the lives of authors, especially women authors.

Who should buy this book?  Public Libraries and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it? Biographies

Should we (librarians/readers) put this at the top of our “to read” piles?  No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

Date of review: 12/7/17             

 

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Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1961 – Larry Dane Brimner

    Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1961 – Larry Dane Brimner, Greenwillow Books, (9780062656865), 2017

Format: hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre: nonfiction

What did you like about the book? In May 1961, thirteen individuals from different backgrounds (black and white, young and old, northern and southern) boarded buses in Washington, D.C. with a plan to defy the Jim Crow laws of the south and integrate buses. They experienced hate and violence during their journey and a few were gravely injured. Twelve Days in May first gives context for the freedom rides by detailing the major court cases up to that point and then tells the full, unvarnished story of those twelve days. Full-page images, first person accounts and emphasized text all contribute to this very strong addition to the author’s nonfiction books about the civil rights movement. The story is told chronologically and pictures take the forefront. Readers could spend a long time analyzing the photos in this book to enhance their understanding of the events and luckily the photos are frequent and large. The bibliography, suggested source list, index and biographies of riders are appended.

To whom would you recommend this book? Everyone should be exposed to this book. It would be a great addition to civil rights units.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Nothing

Who should buy this book? All middle and high school libraries and some elementary libraries (it is appropriate for grades 5+).

Where would you shelve it? nonfiction 323.119

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? YES

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA

Date reviewed: December 7, 2017

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Who Was Chuck Jones? – Jim Gigliotti, illustrated by John Hinderliter

  Who Was Chuck Jones? – Jim Gigliotti, illustrated by John Hinderliter, Penguin Workshop, (9780515159172), 2017

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1- 5 (5 is excellent or a Starred review) 3

What did you like about the book?  This is a biography of Chuck Jones, famous for directing and creating cartoons featuring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote, Roadrunner, Pepe Le Pew and many other Looney Tunes characters.  Readers will follow Chuck from his childhood filled with drawing to art school to his first job with Ub Iwerks, the animator who created Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse.  Chuck finds a permanent home at Warner Brothers during WWII and goes on to win the first Academy Award granted to an animated film for documentary.  Interspersed through the biography are small informative sections on key subjects including Charlie Chaplin, Movie Shorts, and How Animation Works.  The book includes a Timeline of Chuck Jones’ life alongside one of the world during the same time span.  A bibliography is included.  The line drawings throughout the book add detail to the subject.  This would be of interest to aspiring animators as well as those who love Looney Toons.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No

To whom would you recommend this book? Hand this to readers interested in animation and illustration. Readers who love Walt Disney will enjoy reading about another award-winning animator.  This would be a good choice for school biography reports.

Who should buy this book?  Public Libraries and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it? Biographies

Should we (librarians/readers) put this at the top of our “to read” piles?  No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

Date of review: 12/7/17             

 

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Far From the Tree – Robin Benway

 Far From the Tree – Robin Benway,      HarperTeen, (9780062330628), 2017

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre: Contemporary/Realistic

What did you like about the book? The story is told from three voices: Grace, Maya and Joaquin. After 16 year-old Grace gives her baby, Peach, up for adoption, she is bereft. Herself also adopted learns that she has two siblings: Maya, 15 and Joaquin, 17. Maya, like Grace, was adopted by loving parents but Joaquin has been in countless foster homes his entire life. Grace and Maya meet and decide they also want to connect with Joaquin. Soon the three are meeting every weekend getting to know one another. Grace wants to find their birth-mother because of giving up her own baby but the other two do not. (Grace has not told them about the birth.) The couple he has been living with for three years want to adopt him but he is reluctant. And Maya? She has a younger sister who is biological but their parents love both equally. Their parents, however, have been fighting for years and finally decide to divorce. And Mom is an alcoholic. All of the characters are presented realistically including Joaquin’s therapist, Ana. The story is beautiful, sometimes funny (Grace’s new friend, Rafe, very much so!) and intensely moving.

Anything you did not like about this book? Not a thing.

To whom would you recommend this book? Recommend this one to teens who like realistic fiction with humor and pathos and bite.

Who should buy this book? All high school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? YA fiction

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes!

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Katrina Yurenka, Moderator, Youth Services Book Review

Date of review: 12/7/2017

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