Monday, June 8, 2015

I am Cow, Hear Me Moo!

School Library Journal April 1, 2014
PreS-Gr 2-In this amusing tale, a cow named Nadine is put to the test when she boasts that she's not afraid of anything. She and her two friends leave the safety and familiarity of the barnyard to explore nearby woods. At first hesitant to venture into the overgrown wooded area, Nadine quickly discovers much to love about the different surroundings. She spots a bird's nest, tastes blackberries, smells a pinecone, and notices tiny paw prints. When the sun sets, she becomes separated from her friends Starla and Annette while she inspects a cave. Nadine becomes frightened by sounds, shadows, and a tickling on her rump. Fearing a bear is after her, she gallops off a cliff and lands in a creek, where she is spotted by her lost pals, who believe that Nadine has come to their rescue. Written in rhyme, Esbaum's comical and suspenseful plot keeps readers interested. A mix of watercolor, pencil, crayon, and collage, Gordon's spirited and delightful artwork is full of activity and gives Nadine a winsome personality. Readers will chuckle when Annette and Starla boost Nadine up to look in the bird's nest and will laugh when they spot her swinging Tarzan-style from a tree. This story could spark discussions among children about their own fears and would be a worthy read-aloud.-Lynn Vanca, Freelance Librarian, Akron, OH (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Interstellar Cinderella

School Library Journal June 1, 2015
K-Gr 2-In this galactic retelling of the beloved children's story, Cinderella has a knack for repair. With the help of her sidekick, a robotic mouse named Murgatroyd, she tinkers with her stepmother's household appliances, but dreams of repairing spaceships. When an invitation to the Prince's Royal Space Parade arrives, the evil stepmother and her daughters leave Cinderella stranded, zooming into space with her toolbox. With the help of her fairy godrobot, Cinderella fixes a broken rocket and then dons a bejeweled atomic blue space suit, to race across the "starry sky" and join the crowds at the parade. When the royal ship has engine trouble, Interstellar Cinderella comes to the rescue. The grateful prince whisks her away to the Gravity Free Ball. At midnight, Cinderella has to run away, but the couple is reunited when the prince searches the cosmos for her. In a modern twist, Cinderella rejects his marriage proposal, but agrees to become his chief mechanic. The rhyming text is accompanied by somewhat jumbled illustrations painted in shadowy browns, greens, and blues. Cinderella resembles a Disney princess with her wide eyes, red hair and determined expression. The appropriately themed endpapers showcase an array of her space-age tools and gadgets. VERDICT An interesting take on a classic fairy tale.-Linda L. Walkins, Saint Joseph Preparatory High School, Boston, MA © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France

Booklist starred December 1, 2014 (Vol. 111, No. 7)

Grades 1-3. On brilliantly illustrated pages full of rococo details and beautifully calligraphed text, Rockliff tells the story of how Benjamin Franklin debunked Dr. Mesmer’s magical cure-all. As scientific innovation swept France in the eighteenth century, Mesmer decided to bring his own discovery to the mix—animal magnetism, an invisible force responsible for remarkable, seemingly spontaneous healing. Dubious of the true benefits of being mesmerized, King Louis XVI called on the most popular man of science, Ben Franklin, to help investigate. With a heavy emphasis on his use of the scientific method, Rockliff shows how Franklin’s experiment—blindfolding subjects so that they don’t know they’re being mesmerized—led to the discovery of the placebo effect, a vital component of medical testing to this day. Her dramatic text is perfectly complemented by Bruno’s lush, full-color illustrations, stuffed with period detail and sweeping ribbons and curlicues. Each page is teeming with personality, from the font choice to the layout to the expressive figures to the decorative details surrounding a name—on one spread, Franklin is in a tidy serif, while Mesmer is nearly choked by flourishes. Together, Rockliff and Bruno make the scientific method seem exciting, and kids interested in science and history will likely be, well, mesmerized.

Outstanding in the Rain

Booklist starred March 1, 2015 (Vol. 111, No. 13)
Preschool-Grade 2. Creator Viva hints on the cover that this is not your ordinary picture book by segmenting the first word of the title into two parts via color: out in gold, and standing in turquoise. And to reiterate, the subtitle states that this is “a whole story with holes.” Inside, using highly graphic art and a limited palette (predominantly turquoise and brown, complemented by variations of yellow and orange), Viva takes readers on a wild trip to an amusement park with the city skyline behind. The composition is often busy, with action that keeps eyes moving across the two-page spreads (fireworks in the night sky, a train roaring off, the rain hitting close). The rhyming text has an additional surprise: wordplay linked to holes on the page that relate to the action. For instance, the hole that encircles the cream in the word ice cream encircles the narrator’s big teeth on the next page as he screams over the loss of his treat. And these holes also accentuate the use of oronyms, words or phrases that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings (ice cream and I scream). The excitement of the story is enhanced by changing perspectives; sometimes the illustrations are close-ups, and other times they are broad abstracts (e.g., landscapes with just enough recognizable shapes to keep a sense of reality). All is neatly concluded with end pages that head back home, where the night rain will fall on the night train. A must have because of the originality of the concept, the unusual palette, and the thrill of the reading experience.

Rude Cakes

Publishers Weekly April 13, 2015
So what's it going to be, kid? Are you a Rude Cake or a Giant Cyclops? Watkins, a former Sendak Fellow, debuts with an absurdist "Goofus and Gallant" story for the 21st century, about a thuggish, pink two-layer cake. "Rude cakes never say please, and they never say thank you, and they sometimes take things that don't belong to them," writes Watkins as the inconsiderate, ungrateful, and selfish cake bullies other sweets and disrespects his four-tier parents. But when the cake is spirited away to a land where goofy-but extremely polite-Giant Cyclopses use cakes for "jaunty little hats," the cake discovers a way of life that's kind, patient, and affirming ("Giant Cyclopses always say thank you, and they always say please"). Watkins's delicate lines and translucent colors give his story a sly, understated humor, and his liberal use of verbal asides ("Seriously," says the cake as it sulks in a tub, "I'm a cake... How dirty can I be?") make a familiar message about thoughtfulness as fresh and tasty as his confectionary cast. Ages 3-5. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Super Fly: The World's Smallest Superhero!

Booklist April 15, 2015 (Vol. 111, No. 16)
Grades 1-3. Eugene Flystein is an unusual fly, preferring books and perfecting his inventions to outside pursuits. He and his family have recently moved to Stinkopolis, where the fourth-grader finds himself the target of class bully Cornelius C. Roach—a giant bug who runs off with Eugene’s Top-Secret Robot Notebook. Eugene and his new friend Fred Flea botch an attempt to fend off Cornelius with Eugene’s Ultimo 6-9000—an invention, delivered via key lime pie, that increases intelligence and strength by a factor of 9,000—and make a supervillain out of the roach, Crazy Cockroach, who builds an army of robots bent on destroying humankind. Knowing what he must do, Eugene eats the pie and transforms himself into Super Fly. With the help of his sidekick, Fantastic Flea, he battles Cornelius and saves the day . . . but for how long? Unapologetically silly, with plenty of gross-out humor and charming illustrations by author Doodler, beginning readers will thrill to the adventures of Super Fly.

What is the World Series?

From the Publisher: "Strike – you're out!" "He's safe!" "Homerun!" Every October, millions of baseball fans around the country anxiously wait to see which team wins baseball's biggest championship. But the original games of the 1900s hardly look like they do today. Take a look back over one hundred years and discover the history of baseball's greatest series. With triumphs, heartbreak, and superstitious curses, this action-packed book brings America's Pastime to life.