Monday, January 9, 2017

When Mischief Came to Town

Booklist starred (November 15, 2015 (Vol. 112, No. 6))
Grades 3-5. A shipboard goat has just devoured one of Inge Maria’s braids when she lands on a remote island off the coast of Denmark and meets her stern-looking grandmother for the first time. It’s not an auspicious beginning to the young orphan’s new life. Or is it? Much is not what it seems in Australian author Nannestad’s endearing chapter book. It’s a sweet, old-fashioned narrative, whose time frame is never stated but rather implied by wagons lumbering up the road, bloomers flapping on a clothesline, and modern technology lacking. Contemporary readers will nevertheless take delight in the mischief Inge Maria creates as she meets the island’s denizens and struggles to fit in. The still-grieving child, while trying to be brave in the face of her mother’s death, notices that her grandmother is mourning, too. And though her grandmother appears stiff at first, it soon becomes evident that the old woman may not be as averse to mischief as she seems. Rounding out the novel are a schoolmate with a secret loss of his own, a rebellion over girls not being allowed to run during recess, and an ill-fated nap in a herring shed, resulting in a yarn too good to pass up.

The Marvelous Thing That Came From A Spring

From the Publisher
With magnificent dioramic illustrations, Gilbert Ford captures the joy, creativity, and determination behind the invention of an iconic, one-of-a-kind toy: the Slinky!

One day, a spring fell from the desk of Richard James, an engineer and a dreamer. Its coils took a walk…and so did Richard's imagination. He knew right away that he had stumbled onto something marvelous.

With the help of his wife, Betty, Richard took this ordinary spring and turned it into a plaything. But it wasn't just any old trinket—it was a Slinky, and it would become one of the most popular toys in American history.

Look Up!

From the Publisher
A girl in a wheelchair looks down from her balcony and calls to passersby below: "Look up!"
Dog walkers, a bike rider, a kite flier, and dozens of commuters walk by without taking any notice. Then a boy stops and looks up. He lies on the sidewalk so the girl can see him better. A woman joins him. Soon nine people and one dog are lying down and looking up. The girl looks up at the reader and smiles.

The Bolds

Booklist (March 1, 2016 (Online))
Grades 3-5. Spot and Sue, two hyenas living in Africa near a safari camp, slowly learn how to understand and then speak English. When a human couple on safari are eaten by crocodiles, Spot and Sue seize the opportunity. Walking on their hind legs and disguising themselves with clothing, the two hyenas take on the humans’ identities—their names (Mr. and Mrs. Bold), passports, even plane tickets home to England. And that is the start of their adventure. They settle in to a quaint British suburb, secure jobs, and have two pups, er, children, all the while hiding their animal nature from everyone except perhaps their nosy neighbor, Mr. McNumpty. In its quirky, unique way, this explores themes of family and what constitutes human nature. Filled with jokes and body-related humor, and illustrated with many pencil drawings by Roberts, this entertaining tale will make readers chortle. A good choice for reluctant readers and fans of Captain Underpants.

Ada Twist, Scientist

Booklist (November 1, 2016 (Online))
Grades K-2. The team behind Iggy Peck, Architect (2007) and Rosie Revere, Engineer (2013) introduce a new STEM picture-book heroine. Ada Marie Twist is an African American girl who does not speak until the age of three. But once she does, she starts with “Why? And then What? How? and When? / By bedtime she came back to Why? once again.” Ada Twist’s curiosity is insatiable, often involving more chaos than method. A particularly bad smell sets Ada off on a journey of discovery that puts her at odds with her parents, though eagle-eyed readers will discover the source of the stink. The pen-and-ink illustrations incorporate a mishmash of white space and the paraphernalia of scientific experimentation: blocks, beakers, graph paper, gadgets; at times the pages can barely contain the breadth of Ada’s inquisitiveness. An author’s note reveals that the heroine is named after trailblazing women scientists Marie Curie and Ada Lovelace. Young Ada Twist and her nonstop intellect might just encourage readers to blaze trails of their own.