As the long summer holidays begin, Emma Dunn and Sarah Mallon have lots of suggestions to keep children of all ages turning the page
Release by Patrick Ness, reviewed by Imogen Russell Williams
Ness’s great achievement in Release is to acknowledge the weight, worth and agony of first love, and to show the richer blooming of a second, still prone to pain and error, irrevocably shaped by earlier experience, but knowing and expecting more, now, from both parties. It’s a book that will speak, with passionate warmth, to anyone who has ever been made to feel “less than”.
One risk of raising bookish children: You create little shut-ins. No matter how blue the sky, how warm the day, how the susurrations of leafy trees beckon, they want to stay in the dark, cool house and read. I should know. I was one. “Put that down and go outside,” I often heard, along with a lot of importuning about the benefits of fresh air.
Four new picture books bring the outside in, taking young readers on adventures in illustrated forests. Strange, inscrutable creatures live there. These are unruly tales that conjure mystery and a little fear, bringing the wildness of nature to the cozy couch.
The sensory pleasures of the woods are on display in “A Walk in the Forest,” a quietly beautiful book written and illustrated by Maria Dek. Simple prose describes the “wonders” and freedom that await among the trees: The chance to “find treasure,” “follow footprints” and “shout as loud as you want.” Dek’s illustrations are warmly colored and full of movement — birds wheeling in a sun-dappled canopy; another flock flushed to the sky (possibly by that loud shouting); the hind quarters of a deer leaping out of the frame. Shifts in perspective abound. One spread shows a wooded pond from the viewpoint of a bird above. The next shows ticklish pond weeds and a blissful pair of submerged feet. These clever visual leaps show how small and how big the forest can feel, and how many different places the forest can be.
for Julia Turner’s other recommendations: New Children’s Books Explore the World in the Woods – The New York Times.
Meghan Cox Gurdon reviews a gorgeous new translation of “The Wild Swans,” the intensely spooky “Bone Jack” and more.
Extracted from latest Guardian review roundup by Imogen Russell-Williams:
For 8 and up, there’s a debut novel from DJ Christian O’Connell, chronicling Spike Hughes’ rise to subversive fame as Radio Boy (HarperCollins), the presenter of a secret online radio show calling for homework strikes and celebrations of failure. While occasionally overwritten, the story boasts both heart and hilarity, and should definitely inspire budding broadcasters, especially with Rob Biddulph’s images showing the layout of the shed-built studio.
In Lisa Thompson’s Goldfish Boy (Scholastic), meanwhile, Matthew is trapped in his room by encroaching OCD, making meticulous notes of his neighbours’ movements. Will his minute observations help solve the case of a missing child? With clear echoes of Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, this carefully judged, poignant story should help those with OCD feel less alone – and help others understand the impulses behind painful acts of repetition. It’s an intriguing, involving mystery, too.
Set in Syria and beyond, Elizabeth Laird’s Welcome to Nowhere (Macmillan) features the immensely likable Omar, a 12-year-old would-be entrepreneur, and his family – his activist brother Musa, undeterred by cerebral palsy, and his hard working, academic sister Eman. When civil war breaks out, the fleeing family find themselves refugees. What will their future hold? A muscular, moving, thought-provoking book from an award-winning writer, with Lucy Eldridge’s transporting illustrations.
Latest copy of the splendid TEEEN TITLES, published by Edinburgh City Council three times a year, and always packed with reader reviews and special features.
Issue #67 chooses Guardian Fiction Prize winner Crongton Knights as its cover book and carries a feature interview with the author, Brian Conaghan, on p7.
Also interviewed in this edition, Sally Christie author of The Icarus Show, and Tom Becker, author of Dark Room.
Good to read strong reader recommendations fro two teen novels from last year that I enjoyed myself: Radio Silence by Alice Oseman and Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach.
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Unlikely companions trudge, sprint, hatch, sail and float through five picture books, offering a lovely start to the year for readers ages 3-8. The trudging takes place in “Wolf in the Snow” (Feiwel & Friends, 48 pages, $17.99) by Matthew Cordell. Beautifully paced and wordless apart from a few sound effects (“screech!” and “bark bark!”), the pictures follow a little red-coated girl heading home from school through a broad countryside who finds herself engulfed in a blizzard. At the same time, the storm detaches a wolf cub from its pack. We see the two small creatures, lost and buffeted, unknowingly moving toward each other until, of course, they meet.
Mr. Cordell’s ink-and-watercolor pictures seem lightly executed, yet they’re full of emotion: Our hearts lurch at the sight of the girl struggling to carry the floundering cub through deep snow. Affrighted by distant howling and the approach of night, the child toils on to the point of collapse. In a touching exchange, the wild wolves repay the girl’s protection of the cub with protection of their own in this ultimately reassuring story.
the other four recommendations via Meghan Cox Gurdon on the Best New Children’s Books – WSJ.
I wish someone had given me this for Christmas…
Before Astrid Lindgren became the JK Rowling of her day – her red-haired, freckled and fearless Pippi Longstocking adored by children the world over – she was a 32-year-old secretary turned wife and mother going about her life in Stockholm when war broke out. Five years later she would win second place in a competition for a children’s book organised by the publisher Rabén & Sjögren, followed a year later, in 1945, by first prize in the same contest for Pippi Longstocking’s first public appearance.
For now, though, Lindgren was occupied with a very different kind of writing: the diary she began with the outbreak of war on 1 September 1939, and continued for the duration of the conflict, now translated into English (elegantly so, by Sarah Death) for the first time.
Publishers Weekly asked staffers at children’s publishing houses to tell them about the favourite children’s book they had read this year (new or backlist), and how they discovered it. The only proviso: it couldn’t be a book that their company had published.
Here are just a few of the recommendations. For the full list follow the link…
Laurel Symonds, associate marketing manager, Albert Whitman & Company
Pax by Sara Pennypacker and Jon Klassen has stuck with me since I read it nearly a year ago. Gemma Cooper of the Bent Agency and I were chatting over coffee about being recent transplants to Chicago, and she highly recommended her recent read, Pax. I’ve always had great respect for Balzer + Bray’s list, so I got my hands on an advance copy and devoured it. Heartbreaking yet affirming, the story of Peter and his pet fox separated in a war-torn country and its themes of friendship, loss, and loyalty could be just the book we need right now, and the bittersweet ending felt just right. Plus, Jon Klassen’s gorgeous illustrations and deckled edges make Pax a beautiful package, inside and out.
Kate Sullivan, sales manager, Random House Children’s Books
Tomi Ungerer’s Rufus: The Bat Who Loved Colors had been a favorite of mine since childhood, and out of print for years. Imagine my delight when I saw it on display at Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, Vt. It was as lovely as I remembered – the story of a bat who discovers color and decides to stay up during the day to experience more of it. Sweet, briefly dramatic and sad, and ultimately as wonderful as it was the first time it was read to me. Some stories never get old.
Elayne Becker, junior associate editor, Tor Teen
Ruta Sepetys’s novels always leave me speechless. I finished her latest one, Salt to the Sea, on a nighttime flight and just sat there, staring blankly at the seat in front of me, awed. The book was beautiful. Devastating. Important. What I admire so much is not just Ruta’s characters, her prose, and her ability to evoke the past with such vibrancy and care; it’s her decision to highlight moments in history that are not often spoken of or studied, her determination to give voices to the people that are so often denied voices in our textbooks and our cultural awareness. These are the kinds of books I’d love to see more of in the YA world. In the meantime, I’ll be eagerly awaiting her next novel; anything she writes, I will buy.
Nancy Mercado, editorial director, Scholastic Press
A book that has given me breath with its ferocious and hilarious voice and steady, beating heart is debut novel Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera. I heard about it where one hears about all the great books… on Twitter. Juliet Takes a Breath is the kind of book you read with a pencil so you can underline your favorite passages, it’s a book that I wish I’d had as a teenager, and it’s an invigorating dose of fresh air. An essential #postelectionread!
full list via Children’s Publishers Choose Their Favorite Reads of 2016.