Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Born Yesterday The Diary of a Young Journalist

Kirkus Review (January 15, 2010)
If we could hear the thoughts of an infant, we might not be surprised by the sardonic and precocious voice of this newborn's year-long diary. Solheim's cartoons in ink-and-watercolor vignettes provide humorous images of this hyperobservant baby's discovery of everything from a tantalizing crib mobile to hands that can grab, feet that can be sucked, food that can be flung and the notion that "the up end of people is their hairstyles and the down end is their tootsie-wootsies." Yet the best discovery of this aspiring new author is how crying or laughing can alter communication--especially when a big sister's love makes her the best friend "For Ever." Older siblings with a sense of how a new baby can change the dynamics of a family may appreciate this baby's adjustment to life while recognizing that younger brothers or sisters can be the most admiring and supportive of friends. (Picture book. 5-8)

One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street

Kirkus Review starred (March 1, 2011)
Does the arrival of a mysterious man in a green car presage a miracle on Orange Street? Does the orange cone in front of the empty lot where the last majestic orange tree stood mean trouble? The tree was rooted in the lives of four kids. Bunny, age nine, has OCD and worries every time her mother flies. Leandra lives at 301 above the garage with her grandparents because her mother is pregnant. Ali has a toddler brother who has stopped talking after a hospital stay. Lonely Robert is a chubby would-be magician with a crush on Ali. The segments of their lives cluster around the orange tree that holds secrets in the dirt, shelters hummingbird nests and provides California shade. There's also Manny, the dreadlocked nanny for Ali's brother, and Ms. Snoops, whose memory is like a lacy antimacassar, with holes. Unfolding in one day's time, the story recounts how secrets are revealed, curiosity is satisfied and wishing becomes hope because the spirit and ties of friendship and community are resilient and strong. Fully realized characters and setting definitely make this one morning on Orange Street amazing. (Fiction. 8-11)

Ten Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break if You Want to Survive

Booklist (July 2011 (Vol. 107, No. 21))
Grades K-3. The unfortunate among us recall the carnivalesque horrors of entering a school bus for the first time: the creaking bat-wing of the door, the towering driver, the jungle of bizarre and unfriendly faces. Grandits sums up the traumatic experience quite neatly in this surreal take on the reputation (and reality) of riding the bus. Kyle’s older brother, James, is the source of the frightening list of do-or-die rules. Never sit in the first row. Never sit in the back row. Never make eye contact. Never touch anyone’s stuff. Each threat receives a delirious acrylic illustration from Austin that turns everything—trees, chairs, people—into wild malformations that slouch as if constructed of Play-Doh. The surly big kid looks like a wolf, the bus itself has horns, and so on. Naturally, Kyle breaks all 10 rules in a single day, which leads him to concoct Rule 11: ignore your brother’s rules. With its decent amount of text, this skews slightly older, though its topic, of course, is perfect for anyone dealing with the Big Yellow Monster.


Booklist starred (August 2011 (Vol. 107, No. 22)) Grades 4-8. Opening Selznick’s new book is like opening a cabinet of wonders—the early museum display case “filled with a nearly infinite variety of amazing things” that is so central to this story. Following the Caldecott Medal–winning The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007), Selznick offers another visual narrative, one that feels even better suited to his inventive style. The beautifully crafted structure includes two stories set 50 years apart. The first, set in 1977, is told in text and follows Ben, who is grieving the sudden loss of his mother when he stumbles upon clues that point to his father’s identity. The second, told entirely in richly shaded pencil drawings, opens in 1927 as a young girl, Rose, gazes at a newspaper clipping. Rose is deaf, and Ben also loses his hearing, during a lightning strike. Both lonely children run away to New York City, and their parallel stories echo and reflect each other through nuanced details, which lead “like a treasure map” to a conjoined, deeply satisfying conclusion. Selznick plays with a plethora of interwoven themes, including deafness and silence, the ability to see and value the world, family, and the interconnectedness of life. Although the book is hefty, at more than 600 pages, the pace is nevertheless brisk, and the kid-appealing mystery propels the story. With appreciative nods to museums, libraries, and E. L. Konigsburg, Wonderstruck is a gift for the eye, mind, and heart.