Tuesday, May 28, 2019

HARBOR ME by Jacqueline Woodson.  New York: Nancy Paulsen books, 2018. 176p.  ISBN 978-0399252525 hc. $17.99    Gr. 4-8   JUV

Six diverse sixth graders, who have been the targets of school bullies, while also dealing with social issues at home, find themselves in a weekly ARTT (a room to talk) session without the usual dialog from their teacher.  After an uncomfortable first session, Haley comes up with an idea to record the individual stories of the group.  Everyone can share their personal history at their own pace.  Amari is from a caring African-American family who wants to protect him, but knows they must teach him about the dangers of being black in America - regardless of education or social status.  Esteban is under extreme stress because his Dominican father has been detained by ICE and could be sent back to his homeland any day.  Ashton is white, but his family is without economic or educational advantages.  Tiago and his family of Puerto Rican immigrants, is often harrassed and belittled because they converse in Spanish as much as they speak English.  Holly has been Haley's best friend since birth because their mothers were friends.  Since Haley's mom died, Holly's mother has included Haley in family activities and filled a void with stories about her mom.  Holly has willingly shared her many economic privileges with Haley, but can't sit still in class and has a hard time learning academic subjects.  Haley's story has been told in bits and pieces throughout the book, but comes to crisis as the uncle who raised her is ready to move on to a life his own.  He is actually making way for Haley's dad, incarcerated for the past decade, to step up to his role as father.  It's time for Haley to accept this change and grow with her new community of friends.  Woodson tackles several social and political issues, showing how children are also affected by injustice and prejudice.  Readers will perhaps find their own classmates in this timely story.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

THE CRAYON MAN: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons by Natascha Biebow. Illus. by Steven Salerno.  New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019. 32p.  ISBN 978-1328866844 hc. $17.99.   Gr. K-3    JUV NF 741.2

What do you do if you love, love, love bright colors, even though you work in a factory that makes black ink, black dye, and black shoe polish?  Edward Binney teamed up with his cousin, C. Harold Smith, and formed a new company that produced white chalk, gray slate pencil, and black crayon.  Binney's next challenge was to brighten his world by improving on brittle European crayons with the addition of paraffin wax and bright colors.  The company experimented with pigments and minerals to make new colors and shades of colors found in nature.  Eventually, the formulas were just right; and crayolas were packaged into boxes of eight.  Binney & Smith Crayolas won a gold medal for inventions at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.  Over the years, the colors have multiplied into boxes of 24, 48, and 120, but the product has maintained it's quality and appeal to children.  Find more factual information about the Crayon Man in the back of the book.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

THE BEAR, THE PIANO, THE DOG, AND THE FIDDLE by David Litchfield. New York: Clarion Books, 2018.  32p.  ISBN 978-1328-595898 hc. $17.99    Gr. K-3    E PIC

Litchfield continues the story of THE BEAR AND THE PIANO with the same artistic flair evident in the rich colors and use of light and shadow in every two-page illustration.  The theme of "follow your dreams" is also found in both stories.  In the first book, Bear found a piano and honed his musical skill with his forest friends until he was ready to perform for audiences all over the world.  In this second book, Bear is still performing - claiming the listeners of Hector and his fiddle.  Hector decides to give up playing publicly and settles into a life at home....until he realizes that his dog, Hugo, has learned to play the violin and is delighting the neighbors with musical performances.  Bear also hears about Hugo's enthusiastic fiddle playing and invites him to join the show.  This reversal of roles between Hector and Hugo puts a strain on their friendship, as happens in almost all friendships over time.  Readers will want to follow the good example put forth by Hector, Hugo, and Bear in this heartwarming ending.  Although this book could be considered a sequel, both of these beautiful books are good reading on their own.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

LAFAYETTE! by Nathan Hale. New York: Amulet Books, Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series, 2018. 128p. ISBN 978-1419731488 hc. $13.99     Gr. 4-6     JUV GRAPHIC

It's amazing to see how Hale creates a complete graphic story with only the colors of black, white, red and various shades of gray and pink.  Hale writes an irreverent biography of the Marquis de Lafayette who was born to French nobility and became an orphan at the age of 13.  He followed in his father's footsteps and went on to lead a life of adventure in the military.  Unlike his father, who was killed in battle, Lafayette lived to become a military hero in the American Revolution.  Don't miss the tale within a tale, highlighted with a red border around the pages - visible by looking at the edge of the closed book. It's titled, "Benedict Arnold: Super Good Super Bad" and tells the famous story of America' most well-known traitor - in condensed form with half-sized story blocks. Although the Hazardous Tales series allows for artistic license in both writing and illustration, the information is historic. Readers will learn American history with even trying.

Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

MY FOREST IS GREEN by Darren Labeuf.  Illus. by Ashley Barron.  Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2019.  32p.  ISBN 978-1771389802 hc. $16.99     PreS - Gr. 1     E PIC

Barron's cut paper collage provides a colorful, textured background for a young boy who loves the forest.  He describes the forest from a youngster's perspective, using descriptive words such as, "My forest is rough.  My forest is smooth," to match his experiences with different tree barks.  He incorporates the seasons to talk about "crispy" fall leaves, as opposed to the "soft" green leaves of summer.  The book also includes an inside look at the young nature lover's journal, revealing a watercolor page of invented color names to describe the plants and animals being referred to, such as "carefree red" for a ladybug and "tiptoe gray" for a bird walking by. At the end of the day, the boy brings the forest home with him by wallpapering his room in drawings from his journal.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI