Review: Poisoned Apples by Christine Heppermann
Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann Released September 23, 2014. Filled with the stark, violent and frightening truths behind the fairy tales you loved as a child, this book of 50 poems is designed for teens ready to see beyond the beauty of a princess dress. The poems bring the fairy tales into the modern day, introducing us to the dirty side of the entire princess and beauty myth. Here are girls who are trapped in the stories society has sold them, girls who cannot eat, girls with no hope, girls who do as they are told, until they don’t. You will find all of the princesses on the pages here, by they are not who you think they are. There are poems told in their voices and others that are based on rhymes. They are all caustic, brave and vary from tragic to hilarious. I dare you to try to put this one down.
Review: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare Two masters of the fantasy genre come together to create a strong new series for middle graders. Call was raised by his father to fear the Magisterium and magic itself. When he accidentally split the sidewalk wide open with his powers as a child, his father was not pleased. So when Call is required to go through testing for entering the Magisterium, he makes a plan to fail. But the tests are not what he expected at all and soon he is entering the dreaded Magisterium, a place where he believes people are imprisoned against their will and killed for the sake of magic. As Call joins the students, he finds himself making friends for the first time in his life. But all is not what it seems, even for the nightmares that Call has thought up. It is the ultimate battle of good and evil, but not in the way you’d ever expect.
Review: I Know a Bear by Mariana Ruiz Johnson
I Know a Bear by Mariana Ruiz Johnson A little girl gets to know a bear who comes from somewhere that he calls The Land of Bears. Breakfasts there are sweet as honey, the land is vast, and the rivers are lovely for swimming. Even the naps are better there, they go on for months. But he can never return there, since he is in a zoo. So the little girl has an idea, something that will let him feel a connection with the wilderness and something that she can set free. It’s a powerful idea too.
Review: Winter Is Coming by Tony Johnston
Winter Is Coming by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Jim LaMarche A stunningly gorgeous picture book about the changing seasons, this is a perfect way to welcome winter even when you don’t want it to arrive. The book begins on a cold day in September with a girl out in nature watching the animals. She has along her drawing pad and climbs into a tree house to see even better. From that platform, she sees a red fox stealing the last wrinkled fall apple from a low branch. A mother bear and her cub are also in the woods searching for food. As fall progresses, she sees different animals: a family of skunks, rabbits, woodpeckers, a lynx, chipmunks, deer and geese. All are preparing for the approaching winter in their own way. As winter gets closer, the animals stop appearing until the day the snow arrives when the red fox is out to see it too.
Review: Father’s Chinese Opera by Rich Lo
Father’s Chinese Opera by Rich Lo A first person account of a little boy who spent a summer backstage at his father’s Chinese opera in Hong Kong. He watched the actors, the orchestra, and all of the vibrant action of the acrobats. The boy approached the top acrobatic actor and asked if he would train him. He promised to work hard to learn all of the complicated movements. After practicing for awhile, the boy announced that he was ready for the stage now, but his trainer laughed at him. The boy was heartbroken until his father explained that it had taken him many steps of training to earn the right to lead the opera. So the boy began again, this time starting in the lowly role of flag boy onstage but also adding his own movements too.
Review: Firebird by Misty Copeland
Firebird by Misty Copeland, illustrated by Christopher Myers Wow! Misty Copeland, soloist at American Ballet Theatre, is only their second African-American soloist in their history and the first in more than 20 years. Here she writes her debut picture book and through it encourages other young dancers of color. Lest you think this is a book just for dancers, it is not. It is for anyone who needs to hear a voice of success speak about how important dedication and hard work is to creating that success. Copeland tells it all in poetry that soars and dances just as she does. This is a beautiful book of inspiration that reaches far beyond dance.
Review: Elsa and the Night by Jons Mellgren
Elsa and the Night by Jons Mellgren This strange and beautiful picture book is translated from the original Swedish. It is the story of Elsa who discovers the Night underneath her sofa one night just as she is counting the raisins in her cereal. So she tucks the Night into a cake tin and gives him some raisins too. Then she hides the cake tin down in the basement. With the Night trapped, day continues on and one without end. Finally, Elsa takes the Night out of his cake tin and starts to talk about how much she misses her best friend, an elephant named Olaf, who she met after a shipwreck. The explains how the two of them lived together and that now he is gone. About how she then moved to a lighthouse and stayed awake in the light night after night and has not slept for 30 years. The Night listens and then goes with her to visit Olaf’s grave and finally to lift her up and take her to her bed to sleep.