Monday March 10, 2014
Matt Phelan's Bluffton
is historical fiction in graphic novel format. If you've read a lot about vaudeville or watched humorous movies from the era of silent films, you'll recognized one of the main characters: young Buster Keaton, who as a boy performed in vaudeville with his family and went on to star in silent movies. The story, beautifully illustrated in muted watercolors, tells of the friendship between Buster and a local boy during the family's summers in the Bluffton artists' colony in Michigan in the early 1900s. Ironically, as much as Buster yearns for the daily life of a boy like Henry Harrison, Henry longs to be a performer and lead a life like Buster's.
Another graphic novel I recommend is the entertaining Rapunzel's Revenge. Middle grade readers who enjoy both the graphic novel format and nonfiction may especially enjoy reading a graphic memoir like Little White Duck: A Childhood in China by Na Liu, with illustrations by Andres Vera Martinez.
(Cover art courtesy of Candlewick Press)
Saturday March 8, 2014
This week's news includes an interview with Brian Floca and some amazing statistics.
Brian Floca on Locomotive
- Brian Floca won the 2014 Randolph Caldecott Medal
for picture book illustration for Locomotive
, which he also wrote. What was his process in creating the book? You'll find out when you read the March 3, 2014 School Library Journal interview with Brian Floca
. It includes information on how he got started as a children's book illustrator and the challenges he faced in creating Locomotive
. The book is also on my personal top 10 list of the Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2013
How Many Books? How Many Languages? - When I visited a local bookstore this week, I picked up a bookmark flyer about the current National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, award-winning author Kate DiCamillo, and was amazed at the statistics it included. I had no idea that her books have been translated into 39 languages and that there are "20.5 million copies combined in print worldwide." I did realize that two of her books, Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux, had also been made into feature films. I also learned about Kate DiCamillo's new Stories Connect Us website. It takes its name from the theme she has chosen as the 2014-2015 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.
(Cover art courtesy of Simon & Schuster)
Friday March 7, 2014
If you are looking for an Irish tale to share, how about one about a legendary giant? Finn McCool and the Great Fish
provides an affectionate and amusing look at the giant Finn McCool, known far and wide both for his kindness and for not being very wise. Since Finn is a giant who is anxious to do his best for Ireland, this tale is about his successful search for the wisdom he lacks. Finn McCool and the Great Fish
is a picture book retelling by Eve Bunting of an Irish legend, with humorous illustrations by Zachary Pullen. See my annotated list of Children's Books of Irish Folktales and Fairy Tales
for more children's books to enjoy on St. Patrick's Day and all year round.
(Cover art courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press)
Thursday March 6, 2014
While there are many picture book biographies written for kids in upper elementary and middle school, there are far fewer for younger children. That's why I was particularly pleased to learn about The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos
. The book is for children 6 and older and details the life of gifted mathematician Paul Erdos. The author is Deborah Heiligman, who has written a number of award-winning nonfiction books for young people, and the illustrator is LeUyen Pham. The illustrations by Pham incorporate references to mathematics, including mathematical formulas.
(Cover art courtesy of Macmillan)