“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Monday, September 22, 2008

Arthur of Albion • Illustrated Young Reader

Arthur of Albion
by John Matthews • Illustrated by Pavel Tatarnikov

October 2008 • Barefoot Books • Illustrated Young Reader
"A king shall come who shall rule over these lands and as far afield as Rome herself, and his name shall be Arthur."
Story: Compiled by world-renowned Arthurian expert John Matthews, this Barefoot anthology is a comprehensive collection of the many legends that make up the realm of King Arthur. Stories include: The Boy Who Became King, The Ladies of the Lake: How King Arthur Came by the Sword Excalibur, Merlin the Wise, Knights, Their Horses, Weapons, and Armor: The Adventures of Sir Lancelot, The Grail, and more. Includes removable, fold-out map of Albion.
Story behind the story: There are many of us who know and love the tales that make up Arthurian Legend, but not necessarily how they are all related. Barefoot Books co-founder, Tessa Strickland, is amongst those for whom the threads connecting each story remained hidden. So, she asked good friend, Barefoot Books author, librarian, and Arthurian scholar John Matthews if he would compile a collection of the more renowned tales, revealing the weave that binds them. John was more than happy to comply and, along with the mystical, Klimt-like art of first-time Barefoot illustrator Pavel Tatarnikov, we have what is sure to be a definitive Arthurian anthology for young and old alike.
FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent; just click on the "comments" link below to read what your colleagues have to say about it -- more in the works, too!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before • YA fiction

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before
by David Yoo
Brand New! September 2008 • Disney Hyperion Books
YA Fiction
A hilarious new YA novel from the author of Girls for Breakfast.
Story: In this desperately funny novel, David Yoo tells an authentic story of first love, and therein captures the agony, the mania, the kicking and screaming that define teenage existence.
Story behind the story: David Yoo writes, “I had a tendency, growing up, of falling for girls who shortly thereafter got back together with their ex-boyfriends, thereby instantly transforming me from a good friend into a third wheel. I’ve always wanted to write about that. And one summer in high school I had an incredibly dull job at a golf course, where on my lunch breaks I’d head over to this pond on the 9th hole and throw rocks at these huge frogs that lazed around the edge—my only respite from the boredom. The frogs were only twenty feet away, and yet day after day, for an entire summer, I could never hit a single one. I’ve always wanted to write about that, too.”
FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent; please click on the "comments" link below for reviews to date from your colleagues.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Chains • Middle-grade fiction

by Laurie Halse Anderson

October 2008 • Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
• Middle-grade fiction
Freedom. In 1776 New England, that word is on everyone's lips. But for thirteen-year-old Isabel the word holds a different meaning...
Story: Equal parts political thriller and coming of age story, Chains is an impeccably researched story of a young woman's quest for freedom that brings the American Revolution to life in all its grand and conflicted glory. After the death of the only mistress she has ever known, Isabel and her younger sister, Ruth, are sold to a wealthy New York family even though their former owner had promised them their freedom. As Isabel tries to work freedom for herself and her sister, alliances are made and promises are broken and Isabel learns the hard way that the "freedom" she's being asked to spy for does not and may never extend to her. Faced with the choice of working for or against the British, Isabel chooses to side with herself and work with anyone who can help her.
"Laurie Halse Anderson's CHAINS is searing and has so many brilliant sparks I became lost in it. Isabel's harrowing journey into a nightmare realm of slavery, betrayal, loss and ultimately hope quite literally had me sobbing."
-- Three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and Michael L. Printz Award winner, Angela Johnson
Story behind the story: About the inspiration for Chains, Anderson says: "A decade ago, while researching Fever 1793, I came across facts that shocked me: that Benjamin Franklin owned slaves, that twenty percent of New York City in 1776 was in bondage, and that the Revolution was not fought for the freedom of all Americans. These surprises led me to a deep investigation of our history . . . . Slavery affects all Americans, regardless of ethnic background, or how long our families have lived here. Slavery is the elephant in our country’s living room. It won’t go away until we acknowledge, understand, and deal with it. I hope Isabel’s story will help young readers break free of the chains of ignorance and misunderstanding. Maybe they will be strong enough to move our country forward to empathy and healing, and finally allow America to fulfill the dream of liberty and justice for all."
FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent; please click on the "comments" link below to read what your colleagues have to say about it -- plus more to come!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Day Leo Said "I Hate You!" • Picture Book

The Day Leo Said “I Hate You!”
Robie H. Harris • Illustrated by Molly Bang
September 2008 •
Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers
Picture Book
A family book about what it feels like to say--and hear--those other three words.
Story: In a reassuring manner, Robie H. Harris and Molly Bang portray what happens when a little boy feels SO frustrated and SO mad at a parent who has said NO all day long. Together, Harris and Bang delicately navigate not only the momentary angry feelings and outbursts of young children, but also the most profound bonds between a parent and a child.
Story behind the story: This book has been in the works ever since Robie and the previous publisher of Little, Brown, David Ford, ran into each other at the 2002 American Library Association convention. Both commented on the fact that there were so many “I LOVE YOU!” picture books on display, many overly sentimental and vapid. They surmised that this was most likely an empathic response to 9/11 — a way to reassure our young children. Together, they wondered if anyone had ever written a picture book about three equally powerful words — “I HATE YOU!” David’s response was, “I'd like to publish that book and you could write it!” Robie has spent much of her career writing about young children’s powerful emotions. So it is no surprise that after many years, she was able to successfully craft the compelling and reassuring story of Leo and his Mommy.

Here’s a little taste of the three starred reviews (!!) received so far:

“Must have reading for many a parent and child.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Harris’s wisdom and sense of humor regarding early childhood behavior complement Bang’s depictions of a little boy’s strong emotions…. Children will delight in the realism of the collage elements (cloud-covered sheets, shaggy stuffed animals, exploding broccoli spears) and relate to the intensity of the scenes in which Leo struggles with his rage and lack of power. It may dawn on parents that sometimes playing is better than getting another thing done.” -- Wendy Lukehart, School Library Journal

“Harris and Bang are so simpatico that it’s almost surprising that no one thought of bringing them together sooner…. booksellers might actually want to consider filing copies of this book in the parenting section.” – Publishers Weekly
(For the complete reviews, see: the Kirkus starred review; the School Library Journal starred review; and the Publishers Weekly starred, boxed review.)

You might also be interested in reading excerpts from a presentation Robie gave at the Reach Out and Read of Greater New York Conference entitled "Young Children's Deepest Thoughts and Strongest Feelings" as she talks about picture books, young children's powerful feelings, reassurance -- and how Molly Bang became the artist for this book.

FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent and Picnic Basket reviews are in the works; please check back and click on the "comments" link below to read what your colleagues have to say about it!