Tuesday, January 30, 2018

THE INFAMOUS RATSOS by Kara Lareau.  Illus. by Matt Myers.  Somerville, MA:  Candlewick Press, 2016.  ISBN 978-076367636-0 hc. $14.99     Gr. 1-3      J Intermediate Reader

Louie and Ralphie Ratso are tough - just like their dad, Big Lou.  Nobody messes with them because they're as tough as their reputation.  However, things aren't working out for the Ratsos.  Every time they try to pull a trick on someone, it unintentionally turns out to be a good deed.  When they steal a hat from the class bully, it turns out he had stolen it from Tiny, the smallest kid in class, making them instant heroes.  When they soap the windows of Mrs. Porcupini's apartment, she has them hose off the soap and thanks them for the cleanest windows in town.  Their dad finds out about their string of good deeds and surprises them with his anything-but-tough reaction.  Myers' artwork earned a 2017 Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Award for the Ratso series which continues with "The Infamous Ratso Are Not Afraid" (2017).
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

BIG MACHINES: The Story of Virginia Lee Burton by Sherri Duskey Rinker.  Illus. by John Rocco.  New York:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017.  32p.  ISBN 978-054471557-8 hc. $17.99   Gr. 1-3     J 921

Rinker's picture book biography of the award-winning author/illustrator, Virginia Lee Burton, focuses on how Burton used her artistic training to create pictures of big machines for her sons.  For Aris, she created a steam engine train, followed by a steam shovel for Michael, along with the stories "Choo Choo" and "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel."  Over the years, she also wrote and illustrated two more books about big machines, "Katy and the Big Snow" and "Maybelle the Cable Car."  Burton won the Caldecott Medal in 1943 for "The Little House," a structure that was built in the country, became shabby as it was swallowed up by urban construction, and was finally fixed up and moved back to the countryside.  These books have been classic children's literature for the past 70 years, thanks to the artist to created memorable books about machines found in the places where she worked and lived.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

CLAYTON BYRD GOES UNDERGROUND by Rita Williams-Garcia. New York:  HarperCollins, 2017.  166p.  ISBN 978-006221591-8 hc. $16.99      Gr. 4-6      JUV FIC

Clayton loves to play the blues harp with his grandfather, Cool Papa.  He's practicing until he can play a solo with the Bluesmen, Cool Papa's group.  Before he reaches that goal, Cool Papa dies and Clayton's mother makes an executive decision to sell all his grandfather's music, guitars, and signature hat at a yard sale....things that should have been given to Clayton.  She had issues growing up with her father, and doesn't understand how important he was to Clayton.  In desperation to pay tribute to his grandfather, Clayton re-traces the train ride to the city they used to take together to play with the Bluesmen.  The adventure leads to trouble when Clayton runs into a street gang that dances on the subway for money.  When the law gets involved, Clayton is forced to talk to his mother and find the words that express his grief over losing Cool Papa.  Sometimes grownups forget how much children are affected by family events.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

THE DAY I RAN AWAY by Holly L. Niner.  Illus. by Isabella Ongaro.  New York: Flashlight Press, 2017.  ISBN 978-1936261-895 hc. $17.95     PreS-Gr.1      E PIC

The diminutive main character, a young girl who stays at home with her mother, was recalling her day with her father before bedtime.  The day began poorly as her favorite shirt was dirty and her favorite cereal was unavailable.  As the day progressed, she tried to solve her problems.  For instance, she used a purple marker to make her white shirt purple, but her mother was not pleased and she ended up in more trouble.  Finally, she decided to gather her things and run away from home.  Her mother helped.  By the end of the day, she had a play tent in the backyard and her favorite meal for supper.  It turned out to be a good day after all.  The parents in this story are great role models for any age reader.

NO MORE NOISY NIGHTS by Holly L. Niner. Illus. by Guy Wolek.  New York: Flashlight Press, 2017.  ISBN 978-1036261-932 hc. $17.95      PreS-Gr.1      E PIC

Jackson worked hard all day long moving into his new mole hole underground.  By the way, the cut-away illustrations by Wolek are the best!   As Jackson tucked into bed for a good night's rest, loud noises from the attic kept him awake.  The ghost in the attic said he had nothing else to do all night, so Jackson left him a puzzle to keep him busy.  The next night, a monster in the basement acted out, so Jackson left him a train set to occupy his time.  The third night, a pixie in the piano plunked random notes to interrupt his sleep, so he left her some sheet music of soothing lullabies.  With his kindness, Jackson made new friends and brought peace to his home.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

SILENT DAYS, SILENT DREAMS by Allen Say.  New York: Arthur Levine Books, 2017.  64p.  ISBN 978-0545-927611 hc. $21.99      Gr. 2-4     J 921 or  J 709

In a tribute to American artist, James Castle, the author unfolds the story of a deaf child who could only communicate by screaming in displeasure or by drawing for comfort.  Unable to communicate with words or signs, Jimmy was isolated from his family.  When his sister, Nellie, lost her hearing after a bout with measles, both children were sent to  the Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind for a proper education.  Nellie did well, but Jimmy once again failed to learn the alphabet, prompting the headmaster to remove all his art supplies.  He was declared "uneducable" at fifteen and sent home to his attic space, where he continued to draw by using a mixture of soot and spit as ink.  Thanks to a nephew who studied art in college, James Castle's drawings were finally discovered by an art professor in Portland, Oregon and then by the director of the Boise Gallery of Art in Idaho.  He continued to make his distinctive art until his death in 1977.  An amazing amount of research went into the writing and drawing of this biography.  Don't miss the Author's Note at the back of the book.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI