Saturday, October 15, 2016

Summer Round-Up

I had every intention of keeping up with my monthly round-ups, but, oh, what a busy year it has been! Along with the annual summer reading madness, I've also been collaborating with fellow 2016 Geisel Award Committee members Amanda Foulk and Misti Tidman to create the new mock Geisel Award blog, Guessing Geisel. Launched in June, this blog was created as a place to celebrate and discuss beginning readers and the Geisel Award. We have a wonderful roster of guest bloggers who have so generously offered their time and expertise. I hope you'll check it out! Now onto the round-up!

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City Shapes by Diana Murray, illustrated by Bryan Collier 
Little Brown and Company, 2016
 A curious young girl follows a pigeon’s flight through the bustling city to the bird’s circle of a nest high on a rooftop as it falls asleep to the sounds of the city’s “sweet lullaby.” Along the way she discovers that “the city is bursting with SHAPES.” Starting with simple shapes -- squares, rectangles, triangles, and circles -- then progressing to more complex ones -- ovals, diamonds, and stars. Murray’s rhyming text pairs beautifully with Collier’s watercolor and collage on watercolor paper illustrations depicting a vibrantly diverse urban setting. Check out my guest post for Book to Boogie on the Library as Incubator website for more on this fabulous book.

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Leave Me Alone! by Vera Brogol 
Roaring Brook Press, 2016
An old woman lives in a small house with lots and lots of children. All she wants to do is knit a stack of sweaters before winter arrives, but she can’t seem to get any peace. “Leave me alone!”, she cries as she heads out into the deep, dark forest. Unfortunately, there are just as many interruptions (bears) there as at home. So she climbs a snowy mountain (goats) all the way to the moon (aliens) until she can’t stand it anymore and leaves through a wormhole into a void. This modern folktale has a repetitive structure that allows the humor to build to a satisfying conclusion. The illustrations are cartoonish, outlined in swooping black lines and colored with soft washes.

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Night Guard by Synne Lea, illustrated by Stian Hole
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2016
Translated from Norwegian by John Irons, this is a beautiful collection of poems and surreal illustrations. Themes of family and dreams tie together the imaginative, emotional poems. The illustrations (perhaps mixed media? Digital?) comment and embellish the text. Repeated images--a bed with a red blanket, birds, a white house--encourage readers to connect the poems and images. The short free verse poems are quietly humorous or touching, prompting the reader to ponder a while. This is an excellent recommendation for upper elementary or middle school students.

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When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Julie Morstad 
Roaring Brook Press, 2016
 Following the seasons from spring to winter, this gentle book of poetry invites readers to take a closer look at our ever changing world. Titled by month and date, the short poems glory in the first blossoming crocus, days "hot and thick like honey", and "muddy mud" when the snow begins to melt. Morstead's delicate gouache and pencil crayon illustrations feature diverse children and match the quiet, quirky humor of the poems.

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You are NOT a Cat! by Sharon G. Flake, illustrated by Anna Raff 
Boyds Mills Press, 2016
An indignant cat becomes increasingly worked up by a duck who insists it is a cat. Although the duck lacks a long, straight tail, sharp claws, and a taste for mice, this doesn’t stop it from declaring it is cat with great confidence. After all, yesterday it was a squirrel, last week a rooster, and tomorrow, perhaps a cow! The all dialogue text is presented in easy to read speech bubbles that pop out against the clean backgrounds of the humorous illustrations. Created with sumi ink washes, pen and pencil drawings, assembled and colored digitally, the uncluttered illustrations use soft colors and hilarious facial expressions. Great for reading aloud for a preschool storytime or for beginning readers looking for an Elephant and Piggie readalike.

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