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Gā's Reviews

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

This book is strange and enticing and hard to unravel, perhaps the strangest Newbery Winner to date. (In one clever passage, paying homage to an earlier Newbery Winner, A Wrinkle in Time, Marcus, Miranda’s 6th grade classmate, says, “So if they had gotten home five minutes before they left, like those ladies promised they would, then they would have seen themselves get back. Before they left.”)

OK, so Miranda lives in Manhattan in the late 1970s (I think). She has a best friend named Sal who stops speaking to her after being punched, for no apparent reason, by the strange kid, Marcus. She has a lovely relationship with her mother (a paralegal hoping to win some money on the TV show The $20,000 Pyramid), and her mother’s quite-nice guy. Miranda negotiates the shifting friendships and alliances in 6th grade, re-reads A Wrinkle in Time, is concerned with the street person her mother dubs “laughing man,” and is definitely receiving a series of notes which may be from the future. The quirky humor, the authentic setting, and detailed characterizations ground this subtle, quiet, mystery that blooms into science, or science fiction, or simply, revelation. It’s hard to describe, but well worth reading. I’m not sure what grade reader it’s for, but I would start with 6th and go up from there.  --Ga

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$7.99
ISBN: 9780375850868
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Yearling - December 28th, 2010

Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You A Pie by Robbin Gourley

Inspired by the childhood of Edna Lewis (the cook and writer credited by many with starting the slow food movement), this picture book for 4- to 8-year-olds, celebrates the pleasures and poetry of growing, harvesting, cooking, and sharing food with family and friends. From the author’s note: “Edna Lewis was born in 1916 in Freetown, Virginia, a community founded by her grandfather and two other emancipated slaves. The people of Freetown were farmers, and they lived by the seasons, growing and harvesting their own cops, gathering nature’s wild bounty.”  --Ga

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$17.99
ISBN: 9780618158362
Availability: Backordered
Published: Clarion Books - June 18th, 2008

Saving Sky by Diane Stanley

Diane Stanley, Caldecott writer and illustrator, is known for her amusing fairytale re-tellings (Rumpelstiltskin’s Daughter) or her unique picture book biographies with their well-researched text and enticing detailed paintings (Cleopatra and Bard of Avon). Here in her new novel she is doing something completely different, important, and accessible. Saving Sky is an adventure/survival story for 4th–7th grade readers. Sky Brightman’s family is living an upscale, off-the-grid lifestyle on a large ranch in New Mexico. The time frame of this story is tomorrow, or maybe later today. The family hunkers down as the country is experiencing sporadic, but increasingly frequent, attacks. There are many Red Alert days. Food and fuel shortages are becoming commonplace. Sky’s is a loving family, their self-sufficient ranch, an oasis. This part of the novel is quite familiar, even comfortable, the way it is in books where someone else is going through hardships but you’re pretty sure it will be okay. It is less comfortable when Sky’s seventh grade classmate, Kareem, is arrested with his parents at Home Depot as Homeland Security starts ‘detaining’ anyone of Middle Eastern descent. Sky, brave and hopeful, stands up for what she knows is right, giving us a hero we can root for.  -Ga

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$6.99
ISBN: 9780061239076
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - June 12th, 2012

City Dog, Country Frog words by Mo Willems, pictures by Jon Muth

Mo Willems, creator of that undeterred pigeon who wants to drive the bus, and Jon Muth, author/illustrator of the Caldecott Honor Zen Shorts, have combined talent and—wow—do we benefit. Never before in a picture book have the round of seasons, and the round of friendship, and the round of life been so seamlessly shown. Willems’ bittersweet text is gently humorous, Muth’s watercolors exquisite. This is a wonderful collaboration. Every word counts. Each painting opens and expands the text. What is most amazing is that children and adults will each read a “different” book, but both are perfect.  -Ga

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By Mo Willems, Jon J. Muth (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9781423103004
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hyperion Books for Children - June 8th, 2010

Cherries and Cherry Pits by Vera B. Williams

When people ask for books on how to write a story, I often suggest they read Vera B. Williams’ enchanting Cherries and Cherry Pits. A young girl, Bidemmi, draws colorful pictures and “as she draws she tells the story of what she is drawing. She always starts with the word THIS. THIS is the door to the…” and she’s off and running. Each new story emerges from the last, each plump and joyous and delicious as the cherries that Bidemmi writes about. Grades K–3.                

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G?
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$7.99
ISBN: 9780688104788
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Greenwillow Books - April 29th, 1991

The Center of Everything by Linda Urban

This sweet novel is simultaneously commonplace and complex, poignant, and oh-so-gently funny, like life, like death—like love, which is the center of everything. Grades 4–6.

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$7.99
ISBN: 9780544340695
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HMH Books for Young Readers - February 3rd, 2015

The Minnow by Diana Sweeney

Like The Book Thief, this is a novel for both adult and young adult readers, and also like The Book Thief, it is almost perfect. The Minnow juxtaposes terse, clear, brief prose with an achingly lovely, lyrical, nonlinear narrative. I found it almost unbearable to finish the book and leave Tom’s company until I realized I probably never would. Tom would understand that and approve.

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G?
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$9.95
ISBN: 9781922182012
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Published: Text Publishing Company - April 14th, 2015

The Storm Whale by Benji Davies

Noi lives with his father and six cats in a cottage by the sea. His father, a fisher, is gone all day, coming home in the evening. Noi, often accompanied by a kitten, is lonely. Until (with a light touch of magical realism) he finds a baby whale in distress on the beach, puts it in his wagon, trundles it home, establishes it in the bath, feeds the whale a pale of fish, and regales his guest with stories of life on the island. Noi’s dad returns from a long day’s work, finds his son with his new friend, comforts Noi with a hug, and then father and son row out in the night sea to return the young whale to its element. In the following pages we see Noi and his father together: painting, cooking, enjoying a beach picnic, and whale watching. The book’s endpapers are of an adult whale and baby whale moving through a depth of blue. The illustrations are rich, round, and reminiscent of Leonard Weisgard’s Caldecott winner Little Island. Grades Pre-K–K.
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By Benji Davies, Benji Davies (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780805099676
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) - September 30th, 2014

Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan

This is a powerhouse of a picture book not unlike Chris Van Allsburg’s The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. There are inexplicable, eponymous Rules of Summer, dictated by an older brother to his younger sibling. The rules are simple, straightforward, and, as in familiar sibling territory, arbitrary. The art is magnificent. Thickly textured paint creates haunting, luminous landscapes that the younger brother must navigate until the older boy suddenly, impulsively, forgives all (all what?) and forgets his dictatorial edicts. In the final scenes, he lovingly rescues and befriends his brother. Here, the colors of joy in the double-page spread are palpable. Shaun Tan, author of The Arrival—my favorite wordless book and a Hugo Award winner—is superb again.
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By Shaun Tan, Shaun Tan (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9780545639125
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Arthur A. Levine Books - April 29th, 2014

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