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Gā's Reviews

Switching on the Moon: A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems collected by Jane Yolen & Andrew Fusek Peters, illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Yolen and Karas’ gorgeous midnight-blue volume of bedtime poetry includes a counting-sheep rhyme murmured by a sleepless shepherd: One ewe/One ram,/Two sheep,/One lamb,/Three sheep,/One flock,/ Four gates,/One lock,/Five folds,/One light,/Good dog,/Good night. Like Goodnight Moon, this is a comforting world with a wash of mystery.Preschool–kindergarten.

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Switching on the Moon: A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems Cover Image
By Jane Yolen (Compiled by), Andrew Fusek Peters (Compiled by), G. Brian Karas (Illustrator)
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ISBN: 9780763642495
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Candlewick - September 14th, 2010

Meadowlands written & illustrated by Thomas F. Yezerski

Yezerski’s newest book is the pictorial history of an intertidal zone that has been in use for thousands of years: by the plants and animals that first lived in it; by the Lenape tribe who lived with it; by the European settlers who cut down, filled in, and planted upon it; by the 20th-century inhabitants who built highways, airports, and factories, and dumped trash and industrial wastes into it; and now by a new generation of activists and schoolchildren who work to turn the area from the noxious dump it was into a place that can once again support life. Yezerski tells this story through frank text and panoramic pen-and-ink spreads with watercolor wash, framed by cleverly chosen thumbnail sketches that relate to each landscape (such as swamp mosquitoes, candy wrappers, cordgrass, dioxins, muskets, and muskrats). This is the story of a New Jersey estuary, but could as easily have been about the Watsonville wetlands. Grades 1–4. —Gā & Holly

Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780374349134
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) - March 1st, 2011

Me…Jane written & illustrated by Patrick McDonnell

I’ve always been drawn to nature journaling—the sort of doodling/sketching you do that allows you to see an object more clearly than you would if you weren’t drawing it. This picture book biography is a nature journal of sorts. Certainly its clarity is almost sublime. Jane, a small girl in England, studies nature and records her increasingly complex impressions in sepia ink on cream-colored paper. By contrast, McDonnell’s ink and watercolor drawings are sweet and a little goofy. In a sly reference to Burroughs’ Tarzan, we see the small child swinging through her jungle of yard in a cardigan and plaid skirt. “One day,” McDonnell writes, “curious Jane wondered where eggs came from. So she… snuck into Grandma Nutt’s chicken coop…hid beneath some straw, stayed very still…and observed the miracle.” Both hen and child have expressions of surprise. Jane dreams of traveling to Africa, and in a wonderful sequence, goes to sleep in her bed with her toy chimpanzee (page turn), wakes as an adult in her tent in Africa (page turn), and realizes her dream, illustrated by a stunning use of the iconic photograph of young primatologist Jane Goodall and a very young primate reaching across species to take one another’s hand. I’ve never seen better use of mixed media in a picture book. Only Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, Keats’ Snowy Day, and Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon come this close to perfection. Ages 5 and up.

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Me . . . Jane Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780316045469
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - April 5th, 2011

We Are in a Book! written & illustrated by Mo Willems

Willems has made a new generation of genuinely easy-to-read Easy Readers. Writing a great book using a very limited, repetitive vocabulary, of mostly one-syllable, consonant-vowel-consonant words, is very hard to do. Unfortunately, this does not keep a lot of writers from trying. Mo Willems succeeds. His Cat the Cat, Who Is That? is lovely, but my utter favorite is We Are in a Book!. Here two friends, a pig and an elephant, discuss several existential dilemmas in simple, clean, easy, and very funny (meta)text. Ages 5 through adult.

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We Are in a Book! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) Cover Image
By Mo Willems, Mo Willems (Illustrator)
$9.99
ISBN: 9781423133087
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hyperion Books for Children - September 14th, 2010

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

When his blowhard dad loses his job, Doug Swieteck’s family moves to tiny Marysville, a blue-collar town in upstate New York, far from his beloved Yankee Stadium. Doug is a smart, smart-ass 13-year-old. A new friend, Lil (Doug’s a delivery boy for her father’s grocery), refers to him as a “skinny thug.” Although Doug is secure in his mother’s quiet love, dodging his father’s blows (“He has quick hands,” Doug observed.), and his older brother’s rough bullying has made him careful. (It’s 1968. An older brother is in Vietnam. His gym coach has just returned. A man will soon walk on the moon.) Doug is used to navigating and observing. He’s very funny (he uses the language of baseball stats to chronicle life’s events). Slowly acclimating to the small town, Doug’s defensive humor gives way and he becomes complicit in his own learning. He learns to read in Miss Cowper’s detention class. (Schmidt barely reveals that Doug can’t read.) He learns to draw. Once a week Doug visits the library where Mr. Powell, the town librarian, teaches Doug to paint—really, how to see—using John James Audubon’s bird portraits as models. (An Audubon bird portrait introduces each chapter.) In fact, this costly portfolio is the key metaphor of the novel, a model for life as well as art. And this is also the key to Doug’s salvation, which is the point of this complex novel. This book, Okay for Now, unabashedly tackles very large ideas and several complicated plots. I’ve not mentioned most of them. The writing is unusually solid. There are a few plot contrivances; but I honestly don’t care. This story is among the most beautiful I’ve read and Doug’s voice sticks in my head like the voices of Salinger’s characters’ stuck so many years ago. Okay for Now is my selection for the 2012 Newbery Award. Grades 6–9.
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Okay for Now Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780547152608
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Clarion Books - April 5th, 2011

Chime by Franny Billingsley

Briony believes she is a witch. In her backwater English village, a place that is reluctantly experiencing the Industrial Revolution and all of its change, this is an offense punished by hanging. Briony also believes that she is responsible for the death of her stepmother and the disabling of her sister, and as penance she forbids herself from visiting her beloved bog, where she once communicated with the Old Ones. The Old Ones, various witches, spirits, brownies, and other creatures, are none to happy about the dawning of the 20th century or the railroad that comes with it. When they place a curse on the town that sickens her sister, Briony knows that she is the only one who can intervene, but to do so would risk exposing her many secrets. With a viscerally earthy setting and a wry, passionate, and intelligent protagonist, Chime has the dark allure of an old English ballad, and the language is oddly new and beautiful. Ages 13 and up. —Kat & Ga

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Chime Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780803735521
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Dial Books - March 17th, 2011

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