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This Week’s Tweets, Pins & Tumbls

5 hours 38 min ago

Here are the links I shared on my Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr accounts this week that I think are cool:


Barbie F*cks It Up Again http://buff.ly/1qAHXkP #sexism #kidlit #barbie

How this year’s National Book Awards could change the face of children’s literature http://buff.ly/1qz2yWA #kidlit

Jackie Woodson Wins National Book Award: Cue Jokes About Watermelon http://buff.ly/1AoCFvA #kidlit

‘Polar Express’ author and U-M grad Chris Van Allsburg talks about his newest book and more http://buff.ly/1F7Rlz9 #kidlit

R.A. Montgomery, Author And Publisher Of Choose Your Own Adventure Books, Dead At 78 http://buff.ly/1vjnjHu #kidlit

Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature of 2014 – Latinas for Latino Lit (L4LL) http://buff.ly/1x6rjK8 #kidlit

Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize winner announced | @GrrlScientist | Science | The Guardian http://buff.ly/1xQGtDi #kidlit

What are the best books series for younger children? | Children’s books | The Guardian http://buff.ly/1zwZ7iV #kidlit

“When you read my books, I’ll be there with you. We’ll share the story together.” @SANDRA_MARKLE http://picturebookmonth.com/2014/11/why-picture-books-are-important-by-sandra-markle/ … #PictureBookMonth


6 Ways To Become a Power User of the Public Library – BOOK RIOT http://buff.ly/1EOgKxv #libraries

Make It Take It Kits at Meridian District Library | Library as Incubator Project http://buff.ly/1qz242F #libraries

Neil Gaiman -"For me, closing libraries is the equivalent of eating your seed corn to save a little money" http://buff.ly/1EZUEZ0 #libraries

Parasites @ Your Library — Annoyed Librarian http://buff.ly/1Haibsl #libraries

Simon & Schuster Strips "Buy It Now" Requirement from Library Ebook Program | Digital Book World http://buff.ly/1qB0uxh #ebooks #libraries

Twin Cities’ oldest library is being reborn as a job skills center | Star Tribune http://buff.ly/1x5WNQE #library

Why going to the library is one of the best things I do for my kids and the planet : TreeHugger http://buff.ly/1qslDtv #libraries


It’s Universal Children’s Day: What are the Benefits of Reading to Children? | Books LIVE http://buff.ly/1uXUPB3 #reading #kidlit

The Official SCBWI Blog: Product Placement in books? http://buff.ly/1uDONpf #ebooks #reading


The Ageless Appeal of Young Adult Literature| Grammarly | http://buff.ly/1vi3yAc #yalit

Author Sherman Alexie, On Writing For Young Adults | StateImpact Florida http://buff.ly/1x5Wrti #yalit

Frank Portman: from punk rocker to rising YA novelist http://buff.ly/1F76TD6 #yalit

Gay Without the Gay Angst: 10 Books About Lesbian/Bi/Queer Girls | Diversity in YA http://buff.ly/1F4Sdob #yalit

Resourceful Teens Will Always Find Books To Read| Eliot Schrefer | http://buff.ly/1ubxo20 #yalit

Stacked: Here There Be Dragons http://buff.ly/1qsslj7 #yalit

Filed under: Recommended Links

Review: The Map to Everywhere by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis

10 hours 16 min ago

The Map to Everywhere by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis

The first book in a new series, this novel invites readers along on a journey into a series of worlds that are tied together by the Pirate Stream, a river of pure magic.  Fin is an orphan with a strange power where no one remembers him after a few minutes, not even the people at the orphanage who cared for him as a child.  He uses that skill to be a master thief, but then he receives a letter with instructions that take him on a quest to find his mother.  Marrill is living in Arizona, a perfectly dull life, when a ship suddenly appears next to her in the desert.  Climbing aboard, she suddenly finds herself on an adventure in the Pirate Stream with a wizard, the ship’s captain, and the crew of rats.  She has to find the parts of the Map in order to make her way home, exactly what Fin also needs to find his mother.  This adventure takes readers to unknown worlds filled with sinister magic, great friendships, and plenty of action.

Ryan and Davis have crafted a wild fantasy novel that is constantly surprising.  Thanks to the strange waters of the Pirate Stream, the travels on board the ship bring readers and the characters to lands that are unique and fascinating.  There is an island of trees that speak and think where rumors and whispers rule.  There is a frozen land with a leaning tower filled with treasure.  There is a bird made from part of the Map that can lead them to the other pieces.  There are mad wizards who create sorrow wherever they go and are determined to destroy themselves and all of the worlds.

While the adventure is a large part of the book, at its heart is the friendship of Marrill and Fin.  Both of them are lonely children before they meet one another, Marrill because she has traveled a lot with her parents and never settled in one place and Fin because everyone forgets him.  Marrill though does not forget Fin, because she cares so deeply.  Their friendship offers both of them riches beyond treasure and delight beyond the adventure.

This strong middle grade fantasy novel will have readers looking forward to the next book and returning to the dangers and wonders of the Pirate Stream.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss.

Filed under: Book Reviews, Middle School Tagged: fantasy, magic, pirates, wizards

2014 Costa Book Awards Shortlist

Thu, 2014/11/20 - 12:59pm

The shortlist for the 2014 Costa Book Awards have been announced.  The awards are given to the best books in several categories by British and Irish authors.  One category is the Children’s Book Award.  Here is the shortlist:


Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders

The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick


Listen to the Moon by Michael Morpurgo

Running Girl by Simon Mason

Filed under: Awards

2014 National Book Award Winners

Thu, 2014/11/20 - 8:12am

My favorite of the nominees for the Young People’s National Book Award was chosen as the winner

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Filed under: Awards

Review: Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon

Wed, 2014/11/19 - 12:58pm

Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon

Dory is the youngest in her family and her older siblings won’t play with her at all.  So she is left to play on her own and thanks to her great imagination, Dory has a lot of fun.  Dory has a best friend, Mary, a monster who sleeps under her bed and is always willing to play.  There are also other monsters all over their house.  When Dory continues to bother her brother and sister, they make up a story about Mrs. Gobble Gracker, a horrible woman who steals baby girls and is looking for Dory!  So when the doorbell rings, Dory knows it is Mrs. Gobble Gracker coming for her.  Hopefully the little man who says he’s her fairy godmother will be able to help defeat her.  In the end though it is Dory’s own creativity and bravery that will save her and maybe even get her siblings to play too.

Hanlon brilliantly captures the wild imagination of a little girl who doesn’t slow down for a minute, zinging from one idea to the next even as those around her groan.  Dory could have been a problematic character, but thanks to the book being told from her point of view, readers will get to see how strong a person she is long before she displays it to her family.

Hanlon’s art makes this a book that younger readers will happily pick up and read.  Her black and white illustrations are more than paragraph breaks, they show the story of Dory and all of the characters she dreams up over the course of the day.  On the page, we see what Dory sees, not what her family doesn’t see and it’s quite a world that she has created.

Fast moving, wild and full of laughs, this book is a dynamic introduction to a fresh new face that will appeal to fans of Junie B, Jones.  Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial.

Filed under: Book Reviews, Chapter Books, Elementary School Tagged: creativity, families, imaginary friends, imagination, siblings

NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books

Wed, 2014/11/19 - 8:00am

The National Science Teachers Association has announced their choices for Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12 from books published in 2014.  Here are the winning books:


Abayomi, the Brazillian Puma by Darcy Pattison

About Habitats: Forests by Cathryn Sill


About Parrots by Cathryn Sill

Amazing Giant Sea Creatures


Animalium by Jenny Broom

Animals That Make Me Say OUCH! by Dawn Cusick

Animals That Make Me Say WOW! by Dawn Cusick


At Home in Her Tomb by Christine Liu-Perkins

A Baby Elephant in the Wild by Caitlin O’Connell


Batman Science by Tammy Enz and Agnieszka Biskup

Beetle Busters by Loree Griffin Burns


Behold the Beautiful Dung Beetle by Cheryl Bardoe

Beneath the Sun by Melissa Stewart


Bone Collection: Skulls by Rob Scott Colson

Chasing Cheetahs by Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop





Every Turtle Counts by Sara Hoagland Hunter

Extreme Laboratories by Ann O. Squire


Eye to Eye by Steve Jenkins

Eyes Wide Open by Paul Fleischman


Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart

Full Speed Ahead! by Cruschiform


Get the Scoop on Animal Puke by Dawn Cusick

Handle with Care by Loree Griffin Burns


Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Neighborhood Sharks by Katherine Roy


Next Time You See a Maple Seed by Emily Morgan



Park Scientists by Mary Kay Carson

Polar Bears and Penguins by Katharine Hall


Sally Ride by Sue Macy

Secrets of the Sky Caves by Sandra K. Athans


Sniffer Dogs by Nancy F. Castaldo

Star Stuff by Stephanie Roth Sisson


Super Human Encyclopedia

Super Sniffers by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent


The Griffin and the Dinosaur by Marc Aronson and Adrienne Mayor

The Next Wave by Elizabeth Rusch


The Planets

Tiny Creatures by Nicola Davies

Tooling Around by Ellen Jackson


Ultimate Bodypedia by Patricia Daniels

Wild about Bears by Jeannie Brett

Filed under: Awards, Nonfiction

2014 Governor General’s Literary Award Winners

Tue, 2014/11/18 - 10:36am

The 2014 Governor General’s Literary Awards have been announced by the Canada Council for the Arts.  They honor the best in English and French language literature in seven categories.  Here are the children’s winners, both of which are for teen audiences.


When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid



This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki

Filed under: Awards

Review: Here Comes Santa Cat by Deborah Underwood

Tue, 2014/11/18 - 10:15am

Here Comes Santa Cat by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Claudia Rueda

Cat tries out a new disguise in this follow up to Here Comes the Easter Cat.  Cat is worried that he has not been nice enough to get a present from Santa.  So his solution is to become Santa so that he can give himself a present.  Of course, he has to learn how to climb down chimneys, which doesn’t go well.  He also has to figure out how to fly without Santa’s magic reindeer.  Perhaps a jet pack?  He tries giving gifts to children, but they don’t seem to appreciate the fish.  He even tries to decorate a tree, but it too ends in disaster.  What is one naughty cat to do?

Underwood has created a delightful sequel to her first Cat book.  Once again Cat uses signs to communicate with the reader.  The voice of the narrator is one of an adult, making this an ideal book to be read aloud by a teacher or parent.  The rather disapproving but still encouraging tone of the narrator sets up the humor perfectly and with Underwood’s clear sense of comedic timing, the results are hilarious. 

Rueda’s art adds to the zany humor, often serving as the final funny note to a gag.  She uses gentle colors and delicate lines, supporting the storyline clearly.  Her comedic timing too is wonderfully spot on.

A very funny addition to crowded Christmas picture book shelves, save this one to share aloud on Christmas Eve.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial.

Filed under: Book Reviews, Picture Books Tagged: cats, Christmas, Santa Claus

Review: Sebastian and the Balloon by Philip C. Stead

Mon, 2014/11/17 - 2:42pm

Sebastian and the Balloon by Philip C. Stead

A little boy named Sebastian is having a very boring day even though he is up on the top of the roof where he’s never supposed to be.  So he decides to head on a journey.  First, he packs everything he needs, then he heads for the hot air balloon he made from his grandmother’s afghans and quilts.  He sets off and meets a bear next to a leafless tree.  He offers the bear a pickle sandwich and the bear joins him on his journey.  Flying in the fog, they hear a loud pop and find that a bird has flown into the balloon.  They land atop a a colorful worn house where three sisters help them knit their balloon together again.  As the three elderly ladies work, they mention the time that they went over the mountain as children and found a rollercoaster.  You can guess where they all headed next!

Stead has created a quiet and lovely book here.  It is an adventure book, but somehow it is imbued with a gentleness and dreaminess.  Perhaps it is the balloon flight, the drifting and silence and quiet of that mode of transportation.  Or it could be the fog, the friendly bear, and the three grandmothers.  It all adds up to a wonderfully whimsical book that dances along dreamily.

Stead’s illustrations are always a treat.  I love that his protagonist is a little boy of color, someone who glows against the background, who is resourceful, smart and creative.  The three grandmothers, each with their own color that is also represented in their home, are drawn with a humor that is gentle and gorgeous.  The entire book sings of whimsy and imagination.

Ideal for bedtime reading, this book is sure to create dreams of hot air balloon rides and an array of friends.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.

Filed under: Book Reviews, Picture Books Tagged: balloons, bears, journeys

Review: The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis

Mon, 2014/11/17 - 7:50am

The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis

This companion novel to Elijah of Buxton continues the story of the town of Buxton and the people who live there.  This book, which takes place forty years after the first book, is the story of two boys, Benji and Red.  Benji, who lives in Buxton, dreams of becoming a newspaper reporter.  He has two pesky younger siblings who also happen to be gifted builders with wood.  That doesn’t mean though that Benji doesn’t try to put them in their place when they need it.  Benji also has a way with the forest, spending hours walking the trails and exploring.  He is one of the first to see the Madman of Piney Woods.  Red is a scientist.  He’s been raised by his father and maternal grandmother, who hates anyone who isn’t Irish like she is.  She is strict with Red, smacking him regularly with her cane hard enough to raise a lump.  When the two boys meet, they immediately become friends even though their backgrounds are so different.  But can their friendship withstand the brimming hatred of some people in their communities?

I loved Elijah of Buxton so much and I started this book rather gingerly, hoping that it would be just as special as the original.  Happily, it certainly is.  It has a wonderful feeling to it, a rich storytelling that hearkens back to Mark Twain and other classic boyhood friendship books.  Curtis makes sure that we know how different these two boys are:  one with a large family, the other small, different races, different points of view.  Yet it feels so right when the two boys are immediate friends, readers will have known all along that they suit one another. 

Curtis explores deep themes in this novel, offering relief in the form of the exploits of the two boys as they figure out ways to mess with their siblings and escape domineering grandmothers.  There are scenes that are laugh-out-loud funny.  Other scenes though are gut-wrenching and powerful.  They explore themes like the damage done to the psyche during wars, racism, ambition, responsibility and family ties.  It is a testament to the writing of Curtis that both the humor and the drama come together into an exquisite mix of laughter and tears.

A great novel worthy of following the award-winning original, this book will be met with cheers by teachers and young readers alike.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy received from Scholastic Press.

Filed under: Book Reviews, Middle School Tagged: Canada, families, friendship, historical fiction, racism