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Gā's Reviews

Merrow by Ananda Braxton-Smith

Set in the 11th century, at a time when a 12-year-old girl is almost an adult, Neen Marrey lives with her stoic but not unloving auntie Ushags on Carrick Island. Neen is always asking her aunt for stories about her long-dead mother, Ushags’ sister, who perhaps was a merrow, a selkie. This is a fairy tale woven into a novel—the language is glittery with precision, yet warm and lyrical as song. Ages 13 & up.  —GA

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Merrow Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780763679248
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Published: Candlewick - November 8th, 2016

Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

Like Zusak’s stunning Book Thief, this is a complicated and rewarding World War II novel about a young girl’s survival. When Anna’s father, a linguistics professor, is rounded up by the Gestapo with Krakow’s intellectuals, she finds the Swallow Man. Seven-year-old Anna trusts him because he knows many languages, just as she does, and appears to speak with birds. The Swallow Man reluctantly becomes her guardian over the next four years as they roam war-broken Poland. Both Anna and the Swallow Man are broken as well, but heal somewhat in each other’s company, though they are broken a second time as love and its limits are made apparent. This is an adult fairy tale, graceful and economical, with its moral/immoral compass swinging toward the conclusion that human relationships, however flawed, have the possibility of saving us all. A deeply moving debut novel for at least 8th grade and up.                 —GA

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ISBN: 9780553513349
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers - January 26th, 2016

Jazz Day written by Roxanne Orgill illustrated by Francis Vallejo

A score of poetic vignettes provide the setup for Esquire writer Art Kane’s iconic 1958 photograph of jazz greats, posed for an unpaid photo shoot at the outlandish (for jazz musicians) hour of 10 am on the steps of a brownstone at 126th Street in Harlem. Roxane Orgill’s text is accompanied by Francis Vallejo’s evocative acrylic and pastel paintings, leading up to a fold-out spread of the actual photo, indicated by a black page with the word “click” in white print. This is the second picture book—the other being Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell, about Jane Goodall—to make perfectly exquisite use of an iconic photograph. Grades 4 & up. —GĀ

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By Roxane Orgill, Francis Vallejo (Illustrator)
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ISBN: 9780763669546
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Candlewick - March 8th, 2016

Some Writer! by Melissa Sweet

When a children’s picture book biography contains primary source materials (letters, photos, manuscript pages); when it has drawings, whimsical collages, and watercolor; and, most importantly, has a clear and nimble text, I get happy. What Melissa Sweet’s book conveys about E. B. White’s writing (through excerpts), and what she herself conveys through her own writing, is joy—the sense of how lucky we are to live this life. Some Writer! is just what a biography should be, leaving you both satisfied and curious. Ages 8 & up. —GĀ

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Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780544319592
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HMH Books for Young Readers - October 4th, 2016

Pax written by Sara Pennypacker illustrated by Jon Klassen

Here is a wilderness survival story, told in alternating chapters by 12-year-old Peter and by Pax, the orphaned fox kit he raised, as they attempt to reunite in a warring countryside that feels a little like our own neighborhoods in the near future. This is a startling and viscerally moving antiwar novel that will appeal to several age groups. We have some signed first editions in stock. Grades 5–8.—GĀ

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By Sara Pennypacker, Jon Klassen (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062377012
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Published: Balzer + Bray - February 2nd, 2016

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

This is not what we’ve come to expect from a Kate DiCamillo novel—no clever razzle-dazzle of poet-squirrels and brave mice that steal your heart. Instead, as in her very first novel, we have a young girl in trouble. Ten-year-old Raymie’s dad has run away with a dental hygienist. She can’t make him return unless, she reasons, he sees her photo in the paper as the baton-twirling winner (she’s never twirled a baton) of the Miss Central Florida Tire Competition of 1975. Two other girls covet this prize, each for their own similarly unreasoned reasons, but the three girls become loyal friends and (sans adults) rescue each other. Droll, heartbreaking, and oh so nice. Grades 4–7. —GĀ

 

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ISBN: 9780763681173
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Published: Candlewick - April 12th, 2016

Booked by Kwame Alexander

Booked is a riveting sports story about a smart, reading-averse, soccer-obsessed, 12-year-old boy. Like his Newbery Award–winning Crossover, the novel is told in verse and Kwame Alexander is just the writer to pull this off and make it absolutely appealing to a reluctant reader like his protagonist Nick (or to a seasoned reader like me). Grades 5–8. —GĀ

 

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Booked (The Crossover Series) Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780544570986
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Published: HMH Books for Young Readers - April 5th, 2016

Their Great Gift Courage, Sacrifice, and Hope in a New Land by John Coy

There are scores of successful individual immigration stories—for example, Allen Say’s Grandfather’s Journey, Helen Recorvit’s My Name is Yoon, Eleanor Estes’ The Hundred Dresses, Francisco Jimenez’ The Circuit, and Shaun Tan’s The Arrival. But until now it has seemed almost impossible to write a composite immigration picture book essay without being reductive or marzipan, without coming off like “We Are the World.” Their Great Gift is clear, honest, and timely, and it belongs in all elementary school classrooms and home libraries. Grades K–4. —GA

 

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Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice, and Hope in a New Land Cover Image
By John Coy, Wing Young Huie (Photographer)
$19.99
ISBN: 9781467780544
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Carolrhoda Books (R) - March 1st, 2016

Frank and Lucky Get Schooled by Lynne Perkins

The sheer joy and exuberance of learning is revealed when Frank, a young boy, and Lucky, a black Lab pup from a shelter, are brought together. “Both had a lot to learn.” They learn about science—“Science is when you wonder about something, so you observe it and ask questions about it”—and specifically about botany, entomology, and chemistry because Lucky had “wondered about skunks.” They learn about math—“Let’s say a dog comes in from outside and gets one biscuit, but there are three people in the living room. How many more biscuits should the dog receive?”—and specifically about fractions. At night, how much of the bed belongs to Lucky or to Frank? The answer, as shown in multiple panels, changes during the course of the night. They learn about history and perspective when a cake vanishes—“Sometimes in history there are different versions of what really happened, depending on who is telling the story.” They learn about geography and languages—Frank learns Spanish; Lucky tries to learn Duck. Learning is all around us, and the love of it is celebrated in Perkins’ deadpan but exceedingly funny text and delightful pen-and-ink and watercolor paintings. This is my favorite picture book of the year. Grades 1 & up.    —GA

 

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Frank and Lucky Get Schooled Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062373458
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Published: Greenwillow Books - June 14th, 2016

Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes

An intrepid youngster yearns for the moon, which looks like a “little bowl of milk, just waiting.” When her numerous attempts to reach it prove untenable, she returns home, tired and hungry, where there is a “great big bowl of milk on the porch, just waiting for her.” In bold black-and-white ink and charcoal (with a gold Caldecott sticker) reminiscent of Japanese woodblock art, this is a purrfect board book.  —GA

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Kitten's First Full Moon Board Book Cover Image
By Kevin Henkes, Kevin Henkes (Illustrator)
$8.99
ISBN: 9780062417107
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Published: Greenwillow Books - September 15th, 2015

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