“'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

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!: A Sonic Adventure ▪ Picture book

Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!: A Sonic Adventure
by Wynton Marsalis 
  illustrated by Paul Rogers
October 2012  Candlewick Press  Ages 4-7
The creators of Jazz ABZ are back for an encore! With infectious rhythm and rhyme, musical master Wynton Marsalis opens kids’ ears to the sounds around us.
Story: What’s that sound? The back door squeeeaks open, sounding like a noisy mouse nearby – eeek, eeeek, eeeek! Big trucks on the highway rrrrrrrumble, just as hunger makes a tummy grrrrumble. Jazz Legend Wynton Marsalis combines the everyday sounds of doors creeking and clocks ticking, with the whomp’s and tlawk’s of classic jazz instruments to create a culmination of sounds that turns a lazy neighborhood into a concert in this exciting new book.
Story behind the story: Five years after illustrator Paul Rogers’ and musician Wynton Marsalis’ first collaboration with Jazz ABZ: An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits, the creative duo present their new children’s book, which suggests the musical qualities of everyday sounds. By presenting two everyday sounds, and then an instrument that has a similar sound with accompanying poems, the story encourages children to take a closer listen. Marsalis reveals his inspiration, “When I read books to my kids I always animate the stories with sounds. So I started thinking about how everyday sounds we hear in our homes or on the street relate to the sounds of musical instruments.” Rogers hopes that the book inspires readers beyond its pages. He says “This is a book for children written by a jazz musician, and the poems are hip. I hope the drawings measure up to the words. We both hope children and their families enjoy it and listen to the sounds around their own neighborhoods in a new way.”

Read a conversation with Wynton and Paul here.

Praise for Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!:

“Loud and clear, the creators show how tuning into everyday sounds can inspire music. Clap, clap, CLAP!” – Kirkus Reviews, starred review
 “Who better to lead children in a celebration of sound than jazz virtuoso Wynton Marsalis? From the “tluck…tlock” of a dripping faucet and the “Chrrick chrrrick” of toast being buttered to the noises of trucks, drums, and washboards, the musician gives voice to the sounds enveloping an African American boy throughout the day…  This exuberant articulation of sounds both subtle and grandiose is sure to inspire closer listening and creative responses.” – School Library Journal, starred review

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Monday, September 24, 2012

The Jaguar Stones Trilogy ▪ Middle-grade fiction

The Jaguar Stones Trilogy
by J & P Voelkel
September 25, 2012  ▪  Egmont USA  ▪  Ages 10 and up
 “A fact-packed, thrilling ride. Rick Riordan fans will love it.” –Booklist (on the second book in the trilogy)
Story: As the world awaits the outcome of the Mayan Prophecy calling for the end of the world on December 21st, 2012, what better way to spend ones time than reading? And what better series to delve into than The Jaguar Stones by J&P Voelkel?Featuring 14-year-old Max Murphy from Boston, and Lola, the quick-witted Maya girl who teaches him to survive in the perilous rainforest, this nail-biting, middle-grade adventure introduces readers to Central American culture, history and so much more, all in a fun engaging manner. As we all await that looming date three months from now, Max and Lola must find the five legendary Jaguar Stones that gave ancient Maya kings their power-and save the world from the evil, cheating Lords of Death.

Story behind the story: As entertaining as the Jaguar Stones books are, so too are their creators, Jon and Pam Voelkel. Check out their web site for loads of interactive activities for the classroom—educational fun that will have students clamoring for more information as they countdown to the (possible) end of the world.

While Jon Voelkel was growing up in South and Central America, his wife-to-be, Pamela, had an altogether tamer childhood in England. They met while working at an advertising agency in London (The Financial Times named him one of the top fifty creative minds in Britain) and now live in Vermont. To research the Jaguar Stones books, the Voelkels and their three children have explored over forty Maya sites in Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico; canoed down underground rivers; tracked howler monkeys in the jungle; and learned to make tortillas on an open fire. Jon’s most frightening experience was being lost in a pitch-black labyrinth under a Maya pyramid. Pamela’s most frightening experience was being interviewed by Al Roker on the Today show.

Author info, including blogs on their world travels, research for their novels and more: http://www.jaguarstones.com/Authors.html

Resources, including information on the prophecy, Mayan history, and FREE lesson plans: http://www.jaguarstones.com/Teachers2.html

The Jaguar Stones by J&P Voelkel (Egmont Publishing)
Book 1: Middleworld: In The Jaguar Stones, Book One, Max leaves his comfortable life in Boston far behind and heads for Central America in search of his archaeologist parents who have gone missing on a dig. Set against a backdrop of haunted temples, underground rivers and Maya magic, The New England Booksellers Council called Middleworld “funny, fast paced and entirely original.”
ISBN: 978-1-60684-179-2 (pb)

Book 2: The End of the World Club: In The Jaguar Stones, Book Two, the action moves from Central America to Spain, as Max and Lola set off on the trail of the conquistadors. As the rest of the world panics about the end of the Maya Calendar, only Max and Lola can avert the coming doomsday as they continue their battle against the Maya Lords of Death.  ISBN: 978-1-60684-307-9 (pb)

 “A fact-packed, thrilling ride. Rick Riordan fans will love it.” –Booklist

Book 3: The River of No Return: In The Jaguar Stones, Book Three, Max and Lola are back in the jungles of the Maya and the Death Lords are on the warpath. Can video-gaming, pizza-loving Max Murphy and Lola, his modern Maya sidekick, save the world one more time? Not if they can’t get past the zombie army, the mutant-cave spiders, the subterranean hotel, and some very dark family secrets.
ISBN: 978-1-60684-073-3 (hc)

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Who's In My Family?: All About Our Families ▪ Non-fiction Picture Book

WHO'S IN MY FAMILY?: All About Our Families (Let's Talk About You and Me series)
by Robie H. Harris  illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott
Available now  Candlewick Press  Ages 2-5
Trusted New York Times best-selling author Robie H. Harris continues her series for preschoolers with a look at the many kinds of families that make up our world.
Story: "Harris and Westcott, who previously collaborated on Who Has What? All About Girls' Bodies and Boys' Bodies (2011), return with another matter-of-fact and sensitive informational book, this time not about the human body and sexuality, but about human families and relationships." (Kirkus Reviews) Join Nellie and Gus and their family -- plus all manner of other families -- for a day at the zoo, where they see animal families galore! To top off their day, Nellie and Gus invite friends and relatives for a fun dinner at home. Accessible, humorous, and full of charming illustrations depicting families of many configurations, this engaging story interweaves conversations between the siblings and a matter-of-fact text, making it clear to every child that whoever makes up your family, it is perfectly normal -- and totally wonderful.

Story behind the story:  I've known Robie Harris for years, ever since the publication of now mega-award-winning and bestselling IT'S PERFECTLY NORMAL, her first book with Candlewick Press.  So I gave her a ring and asked her about how this one came about:  "Ever heard a young child, who's looking at animal families at the zoo, blurt out questions such as: "Who's in my family?" "Was I adopted or not?" "Is our puppy and are my friends in our family?" I wrote WHO'S IN MY FAMILY? All About Our Families to answer those kinds of questions because we all also know that books can help to answer those perfectly normal questions and concerns that most young children have," says the author. 

Of course, since I can't draw for beans, this book would not have worked at all without the entertaining and age-appropriate art created by Nadine Bernard Westcott. We are just finishing up WHAT'S IN THERE?, the third book in our series. WHO HAS WHAT? is the first book. WHO'S IN MY FAMILY? is the second. All three books feature Gus and Nellie and their parents. We've become very fond of this family. Bet you will be too! 

You, the children's book librarian and teacher community, have been champions of my earlier books. Our community of children's book authors needs you. Without you, our books would not be accessible to children and their families. Thank you so much for that!"

Robie H. Harris is the highly acclaimed author of numerous books for children, including IT'S PERFECTLY NORMAL, IT'S SO AMAZING! and IT'S NOT THE STORK!, essential guides for younger children on bodies, babies, families, and health. She lives in New York City. Nadine Bernard Westcott is the illustrator of more than a hundred books, including WHO HAS WHAT? She lives in Massachusetts.


“This book sets out to reassure children: “Wherever you live, wherever you go, there are all kinds of families.” As readers journey to the zoo with Nellie, Gus, and their family, they learn about where people live, what they eat, their habits and hobbies, and how their families are composed, including references to single parents and same-sex couples. The prose is unadorned and economical, but gentle, and perfect for very young children. Digitally created images are bright and welcoming and feature a host of multicultural characters and diverse families. The conversations between Nellie and Gus featured in speech bubbles alongside the illustrations sweetly reinforce the messages in the broader text: “Right, Gus. Don’t worry. I can be your big sister and your friend. And I am!” This book should find a place in classroom libraries, guidance offices, and public libraries.” –Alison Donnelly, Mississippi Valley Library District, Collinsville, IL
“Narrative text and speech balloons introduce diverse family constellations in a celebratory spirit of inclusivity and community… the tone remains positive and affirming even as it acknowledges that “sometimes, families have mad times. And sometimes, families have sad times....A welcome addition."
Want a copy to review? Order your reviewer's copy now.  We can't wait to hear what you have to share...

[Robie Harris author photo credit:  Susan Kuklin]

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Tooth Mouse ▪ picture book

The Tooth Mouse
Susan Hood    illustrated by Janice Nadeau
Available now  ▪  Kids Can Press  ▪ Ages 3 - 7
This finely rendered fable introduces readers to France's version of the tooth fairy.
Story:  In many countries around the world, there is no such thing as The Tooth Fairy.  Instead, there is the Tooth Mouse!  This modern fable, set in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, tells how an aging French Tooth Mouse names her successor.  Can little Sophie meet the three contest challenges?  Can she prove she is the right mouse of the job of La Petite Souris?  Illustrated in gorgeous watercolors, the book includes information about tooth traditions around the globe.
The Story Behind the Story:  Author Susan Hood explains: "When I worked at Nick Jr. Magazine, I wrote a regular feature called “Kids Like You,” in which I interviewed young children around the world about their everyday lives. My husband connected me with the French family he lived with as an exchange student years ago and I interviewed six-year-old Sophie. Given her age, I asked, “What happens when you lose a tooth in France?” She said, “Well, you give it to the Tooth Mouse, of course!” I had never heard of such a thing! The more I researched, the more I found that many, many countries all around the world (Algeria, Argentina, Belgium, Dominican Republic, Morocco, Russia, Spain, Slovenia, South Africa, Switzerland, Venezuela and more) have a Tooth Mouse instead of a Tooth Fairy. Italy has both! In my research, I also found a 17th century story about the Tooth Mouse, La Bonne Petite Souris, written by Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy, one of the most prolific fairy tale writers of the French Salons. It’s quite a long story and like many fairy tales, it’s filled with murder, deceit and revenge. I wanted to write a younger, gentler story—my own modern fairy tale—and yet include the quests and challenges I loved in books as a child. Et voilà! The name of my Tooth Mouse comes from the little girl who first introduced me to her. Merci beaucoup, Sophie!"

Formerly the content director for NICK JR. magazine, Susan Hood has written more than 200 children's books -- including two other picture books due out this fall: JUST SAY BOO! and SPIKE:  THE MIXED-UP MONSTER, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, winner of both the 2012 Sibert Award for nonfiction and a Caldecott Honor Award.  Illustrator Janet Nadeau lives in Montreal and is a three-time recipient of the Governor General’s Award for Illustration,

Canada’s most prestigious literary prize.  


"How charming is this?.... a unique ending that listeners and their parents will smile with the cleverness of it all. Nadeau’s art is clever as well. Using delicate ink lines and soft-shaded watercolors, she offers pictures that seem truly set in a world of mice. There is a lightness and sweetness to the art that makes every full-page picture and vignette a tasty yet smart confection. Those who’ve believed in the Tooth Fairy will happily make a place for the Tooth Mouse." (STARRED REVIEW)


"Beautifully executed…. Hood masterfully spins her story with lush language sprinkled with some French (which further impresses when read aloud). … Readers will pore over the exquisitely drawn details on each page.... With a nod to classic titles of years past, this provides a fresh, modern take on an itty-bitty heroine's achievement of her seemingly impossible goal."  
"Like Katharine Holabird’s Angelina Ballerina, this effervescent story from Hood (the Pup and Hound series) stars a dainty, ballet-loving mouse, but Sophie’s life is a little edgier than Angelina’s. ... Sophie’s ballet skills come in handy, but her courage and intelligence win the day. Hood’s confiding tone and French asides are part of the book’s charm, while Nadeau’s (Cinnamon Baby) ink-and-watercolor paintings, with their delicate tracery and moody pink and gray washes, temper the story’s frilliness with just a hint of dark humor."

A 2013 ReadBoston’s Best Read Aloud Book Award Finalist!