Tuesday, November 27, 2018

BOB by Wendy Mass & Rebecca Stead.  Illus. by Nicholas Gannon.  New York:  Feiwel and Friends Books, 2018.  ISBN 978-125016662-3 hb. $16.99   Gr. 4-5   JUV

It's been five years - half of her life - since Livy visited Gran in Australia.  She doesn't remember much about the things she enjoyed last time she was here, but when she opens her closet, someone remembers her.  There's a short green creature, dressed in burlap, talking to her about a promise she made to help him find his way home.  As Livy re-learns about her friend, Bob, she also learns about friendship and keeping promises.  Bob is very literal, which leads to some humorous situations, but he is also connected to nature and the five-year drought in the area.  Everything comes around in the end, and it's a pleasure reading the well-constructed story to get there.  The quiet sepia-colored illustrations are few in number, but check out the book cover which reveals a small triangle of color.  Beautiful.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

VERNON IS ON HIS WAY: Small Stories by Philip C. Stead.  New York: Roaring Book Press, 2018. 64p.  ISBN 978-1626726550 hc. $19.99    Gr. K-3    E PIC

Stead offers three related stories about Vernon, who is an introspective character, and his very kind friends, Skunk and Porcupine.  "Waiting" is almost wordless, but Stead's simple, translucent illustrations get the point of the story across to readers. Readers won't be able to hold back a smile at the end of each small story. "Fishing" takes a look at the adventure of fishing in a whole new way, again retaining the subtle humor of the story.  "Gardening" is all about friendship and the activities friends will go through to make someone happy.  Vernon's very slow, thoughtful way of interacting with the world will have a calming effect on his audience.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

ZOLA'S ELEPHANT by Randall deSeve.  Illus. by Pamela Zagarenski. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, 2018. ISBN 978-132888629-3 hc. $17.99.   Gr. K-2   E PIC

"There's a new girl next door."  The narrator knows her name is Zola and that a very large box was moved into her house - probably containing an elephant.  Zola is likely to be feeding her elephant because the smell of toast is coming from her house.  There's also the sounds of running water and hammering - which could mean that Zola and her elephant are taking a bubble bath or building a clubhouse.  All these imaginings make the narrator feel left out of the fun, until gathering the courage to knock on Zola's door and become her new friend.  Readers will enjoy trying to guess what's in the box - probably NOT an elephant.  Zagarenski's illustrations are unmatched in their depth of emotion, whimsical quality, and colorful expression.  Her art won Caldecott Honors for SLEEP LIKE A TIGER by Mary Logue (2012) and RED SINGS FROM TREETOPS: A Year in Colors by Joyce Sidman (2009).
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

IZZY GIZMO by Pip Jones.  Illus. by Sara Ogilvie.  Atlanta, GA: Peachtree Publishers, 2017.  32p.  ISBN 978-16826302 hc. $16.95    Gr. K-3    E PIC

Izzy is a young inventor who carries her tool box everywhere in order to enhance everyday experiences, such as cooking and cleaning.  Her Grandpa tolerates her devices, even the ones that don't work.  Izzy has a tendency to be angry when machines don't work.  One day she was walking off her frsutrations, when an injured bird fell to the ground.  Izzy took the bird to the vet and then began inventing things to make his rehabilitation easier.  She tried to make new wings, but failed again and again.  With encouragement from Grandpa, Izzy found parts from various sources and finally succeeded in making wings that worked.  Grandpa's guiding hand saves the day with a funny, surprise ending.  If this story isn't cute enough, the oil pastel illustrations put the book over the top with added details of Izzy's extravagant inventions.  Readers are drawn to the side stories on each page which lead to extended discussion of physical science, nontraditional families, and community.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI